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Asian Stock Markets Close Higher, Investors Assess Economic Data; Hong Kong Stops Mandatory Wearing Masks

Asian stock markets closed higher as investors assessed economic data across the region. In Japan, the Nikkei ended at 27,445.56, up 21.60 points, or +0.08%, boosted by hopes of an upturn in inbound tourism. The US Federal Reserve’s decision to continue raising interest rates also contributed to the positive sentiment.

Meanwhile, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed at 7,258.40, an increase of 33.60 points, or +0.47%, and the All Ordinaries, at 7,458.00, an increase of 38.40 or +0.52% on stronger-than-expected retail sales. Despite the Reserve Bank of Australia’s long-term interest rate hikes since May last year, investors remain bullish on the Australian economy.

In South Korea, the Composite Index (KOSPI) ended at 2,412.85 points, up 10.21 points, or 0.42%, although investors were still concerned about the Federal Reserve’s prolonged interest rate hikes. The won remained almost flat against the dollar.

China’s Shanghai Composite closed at 3,279.61 points, up 21.57 points, or +0.66%, as investors continued to expect the Chinese economy to recover after opening up. At the same time, investors are keeping an eye on the release of key Chinese economic data this week.

However, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed at 19,785.94 points, down 157.57 points, or -0.79%, as investors remained concerned about the Federal Reserve’s potential interest rate hikes to curb inflation.

In other news, Hong Kong has stopped the mandatory wearing of masks as the government begins to ease restrictions amid a decline in COVID-19 cases. This follows similar moves in other parts of Asia as vaccination rates increase, and cases decrease. However, health officials still encourage the use of masks in public places as a precautionary measure.

In Thailand, the SET fell in line with the investment climate in Asia. The SET closed at 1,622.35 points, down 5.00 points or -0.31%.

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