Most of the Asian equity benchmarks are trading up in the early deals on Thursday, tracking the strong gains overnight on Wall Street after US President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress. While Trump's speech provided few specifics on his plans for tax reform and replacing Obamacare, investors were relieved that he struck a softer, more optimistic tone. Investors were also buoyed by hopes that the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this month. Meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei share average hit a 14-month high after Wall Street soared and the dollar gained on rising expectations the US Federal Reserve will hike interest rates in March. Among the other Asian markets, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Indonesia and Malaysia are higher. Bucking the trend, Taiwan is in negative territory.
Nikkei 225 rose 175.57 points or 0.91% to 19,569.11, Straits Times gained 14.70 points or 0.47% to 3,137.47, Hang Seng strengthen 85.82 points or 0.36% to 23,862.31, FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI added 14.53 points or 0.86% to 1,712.22, KOSPI Index increased 10.12 points or 0.48% to 2,101.76, Jakarta Composite jumped 62.18 points or 1.16% to 5,425.24, and Shanghai Composite was up by 1.08 points or 0.03% to 3,248.02.
On the flip side, Taiwan Weighted was down by 22.32 points or 0.23% to 9,652.46.