TOKYO – Asian shares rose Thursday and U.S. futures also were higher after President Joe Biden delivered a speech to Congress that outlined ambitious plans for jobs creating spending on early education, child care and other public services.
Shares rose in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Sydney. Bond yields held steady while oil prices advanced.
Benchmarks on Wall Street slipped Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it is leaving its key interest rate unchanged near zero, while noting recent improvement in the economy.
In his speech Wednesday evening, the president ticked off details of some of his plan for $1.8 trillion in spending to expand preschool, create a national family and medical leave program, distribute child care subsidies and more.
The plan comes on top of his proposal for $2.3 trillion in spending to rebuild roads and bridges, expand broadband access and launch other infrastructure projects.
In Asian trading, markets in Japan were closed for a holiday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6% to 29,231.73 and the Shanghai Composite index picked up 0.2% to 3,463.10. In Seoul, the Kospi gained 0.2% to 3,186.28. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.4% to 7,090.10.
In its latest policy update, the U.S. central bank left its benchmark short-term rate near zero, where it’s been since the pandemic erupted nearly a year ago, to help keep loan rates down to encourage borrowing and spending. It also said that it would keep buying $120 billion in bonds each month to try to keep longer-term borrowing rates low.
“With no meaningful change to monetary policy or communication, this meeting was simply a message to market participants to sit back and observe as the economic recovery continues to unfold,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management.