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Asian markets rise but trade limited by Tokyo glitch, holidays

·4-min read
Trading in most of Japan's stock markets has been halted owing to a glitch, limiting business in the region as several other markets are closed
Trading in most of Japan's stock markets has been halted owing to a glitch, limiting business in the region as several other markets are closed

Asian markets got the new trading quarter off to a stuttering start Thursday with Tokyo hit by a computer glitch and several others closed for holidays, though there were healthy gains elsewhere in the region on hopes for a fresh US stimulus package.

Wall Street provided a strong lead with all three main indexes ending a torrid September with a rally, which was also helped by a forecast-beating reading on US jobs creation, which bodes well for government figures due Friday.

Buying and selling on Tokyo's stock exchanges was halted at around 8:35 am (2335 GMT) owing to "glitches linked to the delivery of market information", operator Japan Exchange Group said in a statement.

The precise nature of the glitch, the worst in 13 years, was not explained further, but it meant the country's top indexes -- the Nikkei 225 and the Topix -- were unable to open at the start of the trading day. Trade was halted for the entire day.

The issue was also affecting trade on several other exchanges, including in Nagoya and Sapporo, though the Osaka exchange was functioning normally though.

There was also no trade in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Taipei owing to public holidays.

Still, Sydney and Singapore rallied more than one percent while there were also gains in Jakarta and Wellington as investors picked up the baton from US traders.

Support came from rising hopes that US lawmakers could finally hammer out a new virus rescue package for the world's top economy after months of deadlock.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have held a series of talks this week aimed at breaking the impasse and both have said they were "hopeful".

- The special sauce? -

Reports out of Washington said the two sides were looking at an "escalator" compromise in which the new stimulus starts at $1.5 trillion -- around what Republicans are open to -- and rise closer to the Democrats' $2.2 trillion plan if the pandemic persists.

"The escalator clause could be the special sauce and maybe how the Republicans try to meet the Democrats where they are," said Stephen Innes at Axi.

"And House Nancy Speaker Pelosi can still feel like she can claim victory in getting the number closer to her $2.2 trillion target.

"The stimulus deal is very much needed and will come as a massive relief to many unemployed Americans who were having a vision of that proverbial lump of coal in their holiday stocking this year."

There was some good news out of Washington on Wednesday, with data showing private sector jobs creation jumped 749,000 in September, much better than the 649,000 expected, while pending home sales also topped forecasts.

Analysts said markets were also getting used to the idea of Joe Biden winning November's election against the pro-business, anti-regulation Donald Trump.

The view was summed up by former Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who tweeted: "So far the stock market doesn't seem too upset at the prospect of Biden winning, despite Trump's more market friendly policies.

"Perhaps folks think their stocks and 401(k)s will do better with higher taxes and increased regulation than with nastiness and scorched earth."

Early polls showed expectations Biden would win increased after Tuesday's chaotic debate, which saw the two trade personal barbs and shout over each other.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Sydney - S&P/ASX 200: UP 1.6 percent at 5,910.50

Singapore - Straits Times: UP 1.3 percent at 2,499.45

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Trade halted

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: Closed for holiday

Shanghai - Composite: Closed for holiday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2938 from $1.2919 at 2100 GMT 

Euro/pound: UP at 90.72  pence from 90.69 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1737 from $1.1723

Dollar/yen: UP at 105.51 yen from 105.46 yen

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.1 percent at $40.18 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.1 percent at $42.32 per barrel

New York - Dow Jones: UP 1.2 percent at 27,781.70 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.5 percent at 5,866.10 (close)

dan/qan