Asian stocks follow Wall Street higher on bank news

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A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, June 26, 2020. Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Friday after U.S. regulators removed some limits on banks' ability to make investments. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Friday after U.S. regulators removed some limits on banks' ability to make investments.

Benchmarks in Tokyo, Sydney and Southeast Asia advanced while Hong Kong declined. Chinese markets were closed for a holiday.

Wall Street closed higher after the Federal Reserve and other regulators announced they will ease rules that limit banks' ability to invest in hedge funds and some other areas. The change could help to shore up slim bank profits after central banks cut interest rates to almost zero in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gains were relatively small because Washington delivered no more than was expected, said Stephen Innes of AxiTrader Corp. in a report. He said markets gave a similar “mild reaction” to the Bank of England's earlier decision to ease policy.

“Investors are finding it hard to see the marginal or incremental new support,” said Innes. “Investors may need more prominent catalysts. Ideally a vaccine.”

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 1% to 22,488.95 while Seoul's Kospi gained 0.7% to 2,128.23. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.4% to 24,671.06.

The S&P-ASX 200 in Sydney added 1.1% to 5,879.50. New Zealand, Singapore and Jakarta also advanced.

Analysts say investors are looking ahead to a possible rebound from the deepest global downturn since the 1930s and trying to buy companies that will thrive after the pandemic ends. But they warn the market rise might be too fast and too early to be sustained by an uncertain economic outlook.