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Asian stocks post strong gains at midweek close

Falling oil prices, prospects of diplomatic solution in Ukraine, China's pledge to support economy boost investor sentiment

Asian stock markets closed Wednesday with strong gains.

The rally came ahead of a US Federal Reserve meeting later in the day, where a hike of 25 basis points, the first rise since 2018, is expected to be announced.

A continuing fall in commodity prices and China’s pledge for more support for its slowing economy also played a role, as did improved prospects of a diplomatic solution to the Russia-Ukraine war, following Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s remarks that peace talks were now sounding more realistic.

Crude oil prices plummeted more than 27% from recent highs to below $100 a barrel.

The Hang Seng, the benchmark for blue-chip stocks trading on the Hong Kong stock exchange, was the best performer of the day with a surge of 1,672 points, or 9.08%, to 20,087.

The Asia Dow, which includes blue-chip companies in the region, jumped 107.09 points, or 3.24%, to around 3,141.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock exchange was up by 415.5 points, or 1.64%, to 25,762, after major Japanese manufacturers offered pay rises in annual wage talks with labor unions.

China’s Shanghai stock exchange surged 106.75 points, or 3.48%, to 3,171 at the day’s close.

The Indian Sensex benchmark climbed 1,049 points, or 1.88%, to close at 56,826, while the Singapore index rose 54.9 points, or 1.70%, to 3,290.

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