Asian markets mixed; BoJ announces modest stimulus expansion

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian markets were mixed Friday after the Bank of Japan announced a modest expansion of its lavish monetary stimulus to perk up sluggish growth, sending the Japanese stock index up.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 closed 0.6 percent up at 16,569.27, regaining earlier losses. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.8 percent at 21,991.25. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.1 percent to 5,560.40. China’s Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.3 percent to 2,984.88. South Korea’s Kospi slid 0.2 percent at 2,016.19. In Southeast Asia, the stock indices of Indonesia and Malaysia were up, but Singapore’s and Philippines’ were down.

JAPAN-ECONOMY: Japan’s central bank opted Friday for a modest expansion of its lavish monetary stimulus to help perk up sluggish growth and combat deflation. The Bank of Japan ended a policy meeting Friday by announcing it will expand purchases of assets from financial institutions to help inject more cash into the world’s third-largest economy and pursue its 2 percent inflation target. But the measures fell short of expectations among many investors for more aggressive action. Ahead of the meeting, speculation had mounted over the possibility for a so-called “helicopter money” approach that would entail more direct infusions of money into the economy.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “The Japanese stock market in particular is likely to be nervous about failure to act and any indication that the BOJ’s stimulus policy is coming to an end,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. “On the other hand an unexpectedly aggressive stimulus involving helicopter money would be well received by stock markets.”

WALL STREET: Stocks had another day of meager gains on Thursday as investors worked through a new batch of mixed company earnings, including results from Facebook, Ford and Whole Foods and looked ahead to a meeting of the Bank of Japan. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 15.82 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,456.35. Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 3.48 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,170.06 and the Nasdaq composite rose 15.17 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,154.98. After the market’s run-up this month, investors have mostly been in wait-and-see mode this week and the overall market has been relatively quiet. Market strategists have said that stocks have gotten expensive in recent days, and many investors are waiting for earnings to play out before making any major moves.

CURRENCIES: In currencies, the dollar fell to 103.33 after closing at 104.79 the previous day. The euro rose to $1.1084 from $1.1081 from the previous day.

OIL: In the energy market, benchmark U.S. crude lost 16 cents to $40.99 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 78 cents to close at $41.14 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 21 cents to $43.02 in London. It settled at $43.23 the previous day.