Indian, Asian stock indices inch up; rupee firmer

Asian stocks rose to three-week highs this morning as Indian shares and the rupee rallied a day after the country's new Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan unveiled measures to support the currency and the banking sector.

But worries the US Federal Reserve will soon scale back stimuli kept markets in check. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.6 per cent, having earlier hit a high last seen on August 19.

Financial spread-betters expect modest opening gains for key European markets, mirroring Asia's performance.

India's benchmark BSE Sensex gained 2.1 per cent, South Korea's KOSPI rose 1.0 per cent, while Thai stocks at SETI climbed 1.6 per cent.

Tokyo's Nikkei closed a touch firmer, having lost a bit of steam after hitting a one-month high. Still, it is up a good 5 per cent so far this week.

The moves followed a second day of gains on Wall Street spurred by another set of upbeat US data, including rising car sales – a key indicator - though the figures have also added to the chance of the Fed tapering its stimulus programme.

Markets appeared to have cast aside worries about Syria for the moment, even as a possible U.S. military strike moved one step closer after a Senate committee voted in favour of action, clearing the way for a vote in the full Senate, likely next week.