Asia stocks boosted by improved China trade

BANGKOK (AP) — A recovery in China‘s trade boosted Asian stock markets Thursday.

China’s imports rose 5.9 percent in July while exports increased 10.9 percent, beating expectations, and a strong recovery from June, when trade contracted for the first time since about 2009.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose 1.4 percent to 14,031.08. The Bank of Japan ends a two-day policy meeting later Thursday but analysts said they are not expecting an expansion of the BOJ’s already massive monetary stimulus to be announced.

South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.7 percent to 1,891.72. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.3 percent to 5,076.80. Mainland China‘s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.3 percent after opening lower. The Philippines and New Zealand fell.

Uncertainty about when the Federal Reserve might rein in its monetary stimulus program has resulted in volatile markets. The Fed’s stimulus over the past few years has helped keep interest rates super-low in order to spur growth. But it also had the unintended effect of pushing up stock markets, where investors have fled in search of returns that outpace bonds.

Recent signs of improvement in the U.S. economy have led to speculation that the Fed might begin to phase out its stimulus as soon as September.

On Wednesday, news that the U.S. government filed lawsuits accusing Bank of America of misleading investors hurt sentiment on Wall Street. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission said the country’s second-largest bank failed to tell investors about the risks involved in a 2008 sale of mortgage-backed bonds.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.3 percent, to close at 15,470.67. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent, to 1,690.91. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 11.76 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,654.01.

Benchmark oil for September delivery was up 33 cents to $104.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 93 cents to close at $104.37 on the Nymex on Wednesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3330 from $1.3337 late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 96.72 yen from 96.55 yen.

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