Asian Shares Advance As Ukraine Tensions Ease

Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Wednesday amid hopes that a diplomatic solution can be found to avoid a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia announced on Tuesday that some units participating in military exercises around Ukraine were returning to their bass. However, NATO and the United States said they had yet to see any evidence of a de-escalation that could avert war.

Investors also awaited minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January meeting due later in the day amid increasing chances that the Fed will raise interest rates by 50 basis points in March.

Chinese shares rose after data showed the country’s factory-gate inflation eased to its slowest pace in six months in January, raising hopes policymakers could ease policy further to boost economic growth.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 19.74 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,465.83. Rare-earths firms topped the gainers list after prices of the materials rose to record highs on strong demand. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index jumped 363.19 points, or 1.5 percent, to 24,718.90.

Japanese shares rallied on easing fears of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Nikkei 225 Index soared 595.21 points, or 2.2 percent, to 27,460.40, while the broader Topix closed 1.7 percent higher at 1,946.63.

Sony rose over 1 percent and Denso added 2.6 percent after announcing the capital expenditure plans on a joint plant with TSMC.

Shin-Etsu Chemical rallied 3 percent after it announced plans to increase its production of high-performance silicone used in electric vehicles.

Australian markets posted strong gains, led by healthcare stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 78.00 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,284.90, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 82.70 points, or 1.1 percent, at 7,573.

CSL shares surged 8.5 percent after the biotech firm revealed a 20 percent increase in seasonal flu vaccine sales in the December half. Miner Fortescue Metals Group lost about 2 percent after its first-half profit fell by nearly a third.

Santos declined 2.8 percent after the oil and gas firm announced it might not make final go-ahead decisions on its oil projects in Alaska and Australia by mid-year.

Seoul stocks rose the most in 2 1/2 months amid signs that geopolitical tensions could be easing. The Kospi spiked 53.14 points, or 2 percent, to 2,729.68, marking the sharpest gain since December 1 and snapping a three-day losing streak.

Chip giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix rallied 1.5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively, while internet giant Naver advanced 1.9 percent.

Official data showed earlier in the day that South Korea’s unemployment rate edged down in January, with the number of people employed rising at the sharpest pace in nearly 22 years.

New Zealand shares rallied, with the benchmark NZX 50 Index climbing 183.57 points, or 1.5 percent, to 12,121.89, buoyed by strong earnings results from the likes of Fletcher Building and Ebos Group. Fletcher shares jumped 6.7 percent and Ebos added 3.4 percent.

U.S. stocks rose sharply overnight and energy prices slumped amid signs of a de-escalation in Russia-Ukraine tensions and comments from various Fed officials.

Treasury yields climbed after data showed U.S. producer prices jumped more than expected at the start of the year.

The Dow rose 1.2 percent and the S&P 500 added 1.6 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite jumped 2.5 percent.

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