Asian stocks mostly drift higher ahead of central bank meetings

Asian stocks mostly drifted higher Wednesday as investors await a handful of central bank meetings.

Japan’s Nikkei and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6% and 0.5%, respectively, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.4%. But China’s Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.2%.

The European Central Bank meets Thursday. Markets are waiting to see whether the ECB will release more stimulus to boost the slowing eurozone economy.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, will hold its policy meeting next week. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell recently repeated his pledge to do whatever it takes to keep the US economy growing. The comments were widely seen as a signal that policymakers are likely to cut rates again. At the Fed’s July meeting, policymakers cut rates for the first time since 2008.

Separately, China announced Tuesday that it would make it easier for global institutional investors to purchase Chinese equities and bonds by removing restrictions on a couple of investment programs.

“This move marks another milestone for China’s financial reform and opening up,” wrote analysts at Fidelity International in a research note. “Undoubtedly, this will facilitate the efficiency of foreign investors to participate in the domestic financial market and help link the Chinese financial market to the world.”