Asian stocks rose on the final stretch of the countdown to the Federal Reserve’s policy decision as material shares led gains.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.5 percent to 129.12 as of 9:02 a.m. in Tokyo, advancing for a second day. BHP Billiton Ltd. was the biggest boost to the measure, adding 2.7 percent in Sydney after metals and oil prices climbed. While investors remain confident the U.S. central bank will raise borrowing costs this year, traders are pricing in a 28 percent chance of action on Thursday.
Japan’s Topix index added 1 percent. Standard & Poor’s cut Japan’s long-term credit rating one level to A+ on Wednesday, saying it sees little chance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s strategy turning around the poor outlook for economic growth and inflation over the next few years.
South Korea’s Kospi index advanced 0.3 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index increased 0.6 percent, as did New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index. Markets in Hong Kong and China have yet to start trading.
Chinese equities surged in the last hour of trading on Wednesday, with the Shanghai Composite Index jumping 4.9 percent, a pattern that’s become associated with state support. Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index in Singapore rose 0.9 percent in most recent trading. Contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, which tracks mainland equities listed in Hong Kong, climbed 1.4 percent.
E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.2 percent. The underlying U.S. equity benchmark gauge advanced 0.9 percent on Wednesday.