Asian shares hearted by China bank move

May 14, 2012

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares edged higher Monday due to optimism about the regional economy after a move by China's central bank over the weekend to encourage lending and curtail a slowdown.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index gained 0.2 percent to 8,974.69 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 4,292.70. Benchmarks in Singapore and New Zealand also rose.

But South Korea's Kospi fell 0.6 percent at 1,906.60 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1 percent at 19,942.64.

The People's Bank of China announced the bank reserve ratio requirement is being reduced a half percentage point as of next Friday.

The move brings the rate down to 20 percent for most major banks and effectively frees up billions of dollars for lending.

But the regional market remains nervous about political uncertainty in crisis-struck Greece.

Wall Street ended last week with a decline after JPMorgan said it lost $2 billion on poorly-thought-out trades. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.3 percent Friday to 12,820.60.

In currencies, the euro dipped slightly at $1.2890 while the dollar was little changed at 80.08 Japanese yen.