Global Markets: Asian shares gain on improving sentiment, G20 eyed
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Asian shares rose on improving risk sentiment while the yen steadied ahead of the weekend meeting of G20 finance and central bank officials, as investors scrutinise their views on global growth and differences over currencies.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended gains, rising 0.6 percent as its materials sector outperformed with a 1.4 percent increase partly on a jump in shares of top miners ahead of earnings news from Rio Tinto.
Australian shares rose 0.6 percent, hitting their highest since September 2008, as a strong earnings season and receding fears about European and U.S. debt woes bolstered investor sentiment.
South Korean shares rose 0.4 percent after hitting a three-week closing high and logging their biggest daily percentage gain since Jan. 2 on Wednesday when investors cheered a pause in the yen's decline.
"There is little change seen...the index saw a steep gain yesterday, and with the G20 meeting coming later this week the main board is not likely to move drastically in one direction until next week, said Kim Young-il, an analyst at Daishin Securities, of South Korean equities.
A pause in the yen's recovery affected Japanese equities positively on Thursday, with the Nikkei average advancing 0.6 percent after Wednesday's 1 percent slump when the firming yen prompted investors to take profits on exporters.
The Bank of Korea held interest rates steady for a fourth straight month on Thursday as expected, as global economies show signs of improvement and domestic inflation remains low. But the decision was not unanimous, its governor told a news conference.
The Bank of Japan is unlikely to take fresh easing steps when it ends its two-day policy meeting on Thursday.
Markets in China and Taiwan remain shut for the Lunar New Year holiday but Hong Kong resumes trading on Thursday.
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