Asian stocks mostly higher as Japan central bank keeps super-easy monetary policy

EnergyAssociated Press

Asian stocks rose Wednesday as Japan's central bank maintained its expansively easy monetary policy and Royal Dutch Shell announced a $69.7 billion takeover of BG Group.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to close at 19,789.81, which is near a 15-year high, and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.6 percent at 5,960.70. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 2.8 percent to 25,973.32 after a five-day long weekend. South Korea's Kospi climbed 0.6 percent to 2,059.26. Markets in Southeast Asia were mixed while benchmarks in Shanghai and India rose.

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BANK OF JAPAN: The Bank of Japan maintained its policy of super-easy lending, which had been expected. Japan is trying to escape two decades of economic stagnation and deflation by massively expanding the supply of money in the world's No. 3 economy. Japan's main index had risen in anticipation that accommodative monetary policy would be maintained and held its gains after the decision was announced.

THE QUOTE: The aggressive monetary stimulus program in Japan has "provided a compelling backdrop for strong Japanese stock performance," said analyst Nicholas Teo at CMC Markets in Singapore. "Japanese equities have had a tough twenty years mostly languishing in the backseat," he said. "The Nikkei at around the 20,000 level now, is barely half of where it was in the early 1990s."

ENERGY DEAL: Royal Dutch Shell agreed to buy BG Group for 47 billion pounds ($69.7 billion) in a cash and stock takeover, showing upheaval in the energy industry as oil prices fall. A joint statement said the boards of both companies are recommending that shareholders approve the deal. Energy companies are looking to reduce costs and become more efficient in the wake of tumbling oil prices.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 5.43 points, or 0.03 percent, to 17,875.42 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 4.29 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,076.33. The Nasdaq composite lost 7.08 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,910.23.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.06 at $52.92 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $1.84, or 3.5 percent, to close at $53.98 a barrel in New York on Tuesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was down 67 cents at $58.43 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 119.90 yen from 120.30 yen Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.0846 from $1.0823.