Chinese shares hit seven-year high

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Nikkei 225 Index

Last Updated at 20 Mar 2018, 06:45 GMT Nikkei 225 one month chart
value change %
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Shanghai Stock Exchange Image copyright AFP

After being closed for a long holiday weekend, mainland Chinese shares surged on Tuesday as investors bet on more monetary easing by the government.

The Shanghai Composite closed up 2.5% at 3,961.38 - its highest finish since March 2008.

Transportation, telecom and machinery stocks rose sharply, as investors hoped they would benefit from Beijing's push toward overseas expansion.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 closed up 1.25% at 19,640.54.

Shares in Japan were boosted by expectations that the Federal Reserve may put off raising US interest rates.

Weaker-than-expected US jobs figures released on Friday had boosted stocks on Wall Street on Monday.

The weak jobs data has raised hopes among investors that the US Federal Reserve will push back the timing of any interest rate rise.

Rates unchanged

The Hong Kong stock market was closed on Tuesday.

Shares in Australia were higher for most of the trading session after a four-day break over the Easter weekend, but lost some of their gains after the country's central bank announced it would hold its interest rates steady at 2.25%.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closed up 0.5% at 5,925.97, however, after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) said it remained opened to further easing.

Most analysts had predicted a cut of 25 basis points in rates to 2%, particularly as iron ore prices have fallen to their lowest in a decade.

Iron ore, which is Australia's most valuable export, has lost 60% of its value in the past year.

Analysts have said a lower dollar is needed to help offset the falling prices, which are hurting miners' profits and government tax revenue.

The decision to keep rates at their current level sent the Australia dollar up slightly to trade at US$0.79.

In South Korea, the benchmark Kospi index closed flat, up just 0.03% at 2,047.03.

On Tuesday, the country's tech giant Samsung Electronics forecast a quarterly operating profit of about 5.9tn won ($5.44bn; £3.65bn) for the first three months of 2015.

The numbers beat market expectations, but would still mark a more than 30% fall in profit from a year earlier.