BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets rose Wednesday after the Bank of Japan became the latest major central bank to announce action to shore up fragile economic growth.
The Japanese central bank said it was extending monetary easing by increasing its asset purchasing fund to 55 trillion yen ($700 billion) from 45 trillion yen, to counter the strength of the Japanese yen.
That followed moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve to stimulate growth through so-called quantitative easing. The Fed said last week it will purchase an average of $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities until the economy shows significant improvement.
The Fed's goal is to lower long-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending. The Fed also said it plans to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero until mid-2015. Stock markets, which tend to respond favorably to actions targeting economic growth, rallied sharply following the Fed's announcement.
But the flood of money that gets unleashed during such operations doesn't necessarily address the fundamental issues of getting companies moving, factories producing and people back to work.
"Europe and America are going to print some money and Japan does not want to be left behind, so they have their version of quantitative easing," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong. "What you really need is actual economic growth, and this is what we don't have."
Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.8 percent to 9,286.57. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.3 percent to 20,867.30 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5 percent to 4,417.20. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and mainland China also rose. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3 percent to 2,011.82.
Japanese exporters, which have been battered by the yen's strength, surged on the Bank of Japan's decision. Nissan Motor Co. rose 3.4 percent, and Mazda Motor Corp. jumped 5.1 percent.
Investors are awaiting data on U.S. housing starts and existing home sales to be released later in the day.
Wall Street was mixed Tuesday after FedEx, the world's second-largest package delivery company, cut its outlook for global growth and industrial production while slashing its forecast for company earnings.
Also Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that the current account deficit, the broadest measure of American trade, dropped 12.1 percent in the second quarter. That's down from a record high in the January-through-March quarter.
The deficit shrank because of an increase in American exports and cheaper oil, although economists expect the deficit to widen again because of the global slowdown.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose marginally to close at 13,564.64 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.1 percent to 1,459.32. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.03 percent to 3,177.80.
Benchmark oil for October delivery was up 59 cents to $95.88 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.33 to finish at $95.29 a barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.
In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3070 from $1.3036. The dollar rose to 79.16 yen from 78.86 yen after the Bank of Japan announcement.
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