BANGKOK (AP) — A positive start to U.S. corporate earnings season and a sharp improvement in China's monthly trade helped boost Asian stock markets Thursday.
Hong Kong's benchmark index rose on the heels of a decision by China's securities regulator to transfer some IPOs of mainland-based companies to the territory's exchange.
Major regional benchmarks rose after a handful of better-than-expected results from U.S. companies that also lifted Wall Street. Consumer products maker Helen of Troy, whose brands include Dr. Scholl's and Vidal Sassoon, reported a 15 percent profit increase. Electronic payments processor Global Payments said its fiscal second-quarter earnings rose nearly 15 percent, beating Wall Street expectations.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.9 percent to 10,666.84. South Korea's Kospi added 0.7 percent to 2,004.96 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.3 percent to 4,721.40. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and New Zealand also rose.
The Hang Seng Index gained 0.9 percent to 23,419.46 following a decision by the China Securities Regulatory Commission to allow some initial public offerings of mainland companies to be carried out in Hong Kong.
The move is an effort to clear a backlog of IPOs that the understaffed CSRC cannot handle, said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong.
"It's a practical way to handle an emergency problem," Lun said. It will boost the Hong Kong exchange's market capitalization by one-third, he said.
A rebound in China's exports also lifted investment sentiment. Export growth more than quadrupled from November to 14.1 percent in December. Imports rose 6 percent from November, when they failed to grow at all.