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Asian stocks rise before US CPI; Japan’s Nikkei extends rally Most Asian stocks rose on Thursday after a bruising start to 2024, with focus squarely on key U.S. inflation data for more cues on interest rate cuts, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 index extended its run of stellar gains after hitting multi-decade highs this week.

Regional stocks took a positive lead-in from Wall Street, which ended higher on Wednesday on strength in heavyweight technology stocks. This trend spilled over into Asia, with tech-heavy indexes logging the strongest gains.

Nikkei 225 extends rally, at 34-year high

Japan’s Nikkei 225 remained an outperformer among its Asian peers, rising 2% on Thursday to a fresh 34-year high above 35,000 points. The index was boosted by broad-based gains, although technology and automobile stocks did the heavy lifting.

Recent gains in Japanese stocks were driven chiefly by expectations that the Bank of Japan will maintain its ultra-dovish policy in the near-term, especially amid stimulus efforts in the wake of a devastating earthquake in central Japan.

A dovish BOJ also helped the Nikkei rank among the best-performing global stock indexes in 2023, with a 30% annual jump.

Broader Asian stocks advance on tech strength

Most other Asian stocks advanced on Thursday, aided chiefly by strength in regional technology stocks. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was among the top performers, up 1.4% on a recovery in heavyweight tech shares.

South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.2%, with bigger gains being held back by signals from the Bank of Korea that interest rates will likely remain higher for longer. The central bank kept rates on hold on Thursday, and reiterated that it was done raising interest rates.

Australia’s ASX 200 added 0.4%. Data on Thursday showed a bigger-than-expected rise in Australia’s trade surplus through November, although the jump was driven chiefly by a steep drop in imports.

Sentiment towards tech was also aided by positive December revenue data from TSMC (NYSE:TSM) (TW:2330), which stoked some hopes for an artificial intelligence-driven recovery in chip demand. The stock rose 0.3% in Taiwan trade.

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes both recovered mildly from multi-year lows, although sentiment towards the country remained fragile ahead of more economic cues. Inflation and trade readings are due on Friday, and are expected to show little improvement in the economy.

Futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a strong open, with local tech stocks set to track gains in their global peers. Earnings from tech major Infosys Ltd (NS:INFY) are also due later on Thursday.

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US CPI inflation keeps traders on edge

But bigger gains in most Asian markets were limited, as traders hunkered down before key U.S. consumer price index (CPI) data due later in the day.

The reading is expected to show a mild increase in headline inflation, while core CPI is expected to decrease.

Traders questioned whether the reading will convince the Fed into cutting interest rates early, given that inflation is expected to remain well above the central bank’s 2% annual target.

Uncertainty over early interest rate cuts spurred heavy losses in global stock markets so far in 2024.

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