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Asia: Most markets rise, focus turns to Federal Reserve meeting

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Equities extended their rally in Asia on Wednesday as the lifting of lockdown restrictions continued to fuel hope for an economic rebound from the coronavirus crisis.

[HONG KONG] Equities extended their rally in Asia on Wednesday as the lifting of lockdown restrictions continued to fuel hope for an economic rebound from the coronavirus crisis.

While the World Health Organization said a record number of new cases were recorded globally on Monday - with Latin America, India and Russia heavily affected - European nations pressed ahead with easing strict measures that have likely sent the planet into recession.

Among the latest moves, Cyprus welcomed its first tourist flights in almost three months, while France announced the Eiffel Tower would reopen on June 25.

Investor focus is on the end of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting later in the day, which will be the first since the US began to reopen and the first since Friday's blockbuster jobs report.

The bank's decision will be closely watched, though most observers do not expect it to further ease monetary policy, having pledged vast sums of cash as a backstop to financial markets.

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"The relentless rebound in equity markets continues to endure, suggesting no one is willing to call a top," said AxiCorp's Stephen Innes.

"But the primary question remains: has the market's recovery bought the Fed some time not to use all its bullets, or will they keep the pedal to the metal?"

'PERIOD OF CONSOLIDATION' 

He added: "The Fed orchestrated this market recovery, and (is) now set to offer its latest thoughts, estimates and, hopefully for market sentiment, an actionable go-forward plan."

In early trade, Hong Kong rose 0.8 per cent - an eighth straight gain - with troubled carrier Cathay Pacific at one point soaring almost 19 per cent the day after it announced a major government bailout plan to help it get through the effects of the virus crisis.

Tokyo ended the morning 0.1 per cent higher, while Sydney added 0.5 per cent and Seoul gained 0.4 per cent.

Singapore climbed 0.7 per cent and Taipei put on 0.8 per cent, though there were losses in Shanghai, Manila and Jakarta.

While markets are pushing on in Asia, the US rally stuttered with the Dow and S&P 500 dropping on Tuesday as observers begin to worry the surge since March's troughs across markets may have gone too far.

"It would be no great surprise to see a period of market consolidation now as investors await decisive news on the coronavirus front to determine the direction of the next big market moves," Paul O'Connor at Janus Henderson Investors said.

The lingering optimism provided support to higher-yielding, riskier currencies, with the South Korean won and Australian dollar up 0.5 per cent against the dollar, while the Chinese yuan edged up 0.3 per cent.

AFP

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