Asia shares higher after S&P 500 breaks record

AFP
Pedestrians pass before a share prices board in Tokyo on August 11, 2014
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Pedestrians pass before a share prices board in Tokyo on August 11, 2014 (AFP Photo/Yoshikazu Tsuno)

Asian markets mostly ticked higher Wednesday following another record close on Wall Street as investors welcomed more upbeat data indicating the US economy is back on track.

The positive US figures helped the dollar consolidate against the yen at a seven-month high, while it was at an 11-month peak against the euro following disappointing German data.

Tokyo ended marginally stronger, adding 13.60 points to 15,534.82, Sydney gained 0.24 percent, or 13.58 points, to 5,651.2 and Seoul added 0.33 percent, or 6.88 points, to 2,074.93.

Shanghai put on 0.11 percent, or 2.36 points, to end at 2,209.47 but Hong Kong closed 0.62 percent, or 155.75 points, lower at 24,918.75 after hitting a six-year high on Monday.

US stocks jumped anew Tuesday after the Conference Board said consumer confidence rose in August for a fourth straight month, to its strongest level since February 2008. Also, durable goods orders surged in July to a new monthly record.

The news sent the S&P 500 up 0.11 percent to 2,000.02, ending above the 2,000 benchmark for the first time.

The Dow rose 0.17 percent to 17,106.70, just shy of a record high touched intra-day, while the Nasdaq added 0.29 percent.

As a result of the US bull run, traders are now more confident about riskier assets, sending the dollar up against the yen to sit around highs not seen since January.

In Asia on Wednesday the greenback bought 104.11 yen in the morning -- compared with 104.05 yen in New York -- but profit-takers led it lower to 103.90 yen in the afternoon.

"It seems as though the (Federal Reserve's policy committee) is running out of arguments to retain its highly accommodative policy stance amid the ongoing improvements in the world's largest economy," said David Song of DailyFX.

- Euro hurt by German data -

The US unit broke 104 yen on Monday in response to comments from Fed chief Janet Yellen which some analysts took as an indication of a move towards an interest rate rise sooner than later.

Focus will now turn to the release of revised US second-quarter economic growth data on Thursday.

The euro continued to drop on news that German business confidence was at its lowest since July 2013, while European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted at the weekend he could be open to monetary easing measures to lift the eurozone.

The euro slipped to $1.3151 in Tokyo morning trade -- down from $1.3169 in New York Tuesday and the lowest level since September -- before edging back up to $1.3185 in the afternoon. It also fetched 137.02 yen against 137.03 yen.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for October delivery was up 26 cents at $94.12, while Brent crude for October jumped 37 cents to $102.87 in afternoon trade.

Gold traded at $1,284.54 an ounce at 1120 GMT, from $1,289.25 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei climbed 0.98 percent, or 91.63 points, to 9,485.59.

Smartphone maker HTC advanced 1.5 percent to Tw$135.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.8 percent higher at Tw$125.5.

-- Wellington rose 0.93 percent or 48.07 points, to 5,243.70.

Air New Zealand was up 1.16 percent at NZ$2.175 on a strong annual profit report, while software firm Xero gained 0.39 percent to NZ$25.50.

-- Manila gained 0.20 percent, or 14.11 points, to 7,160.46.

-- Kuala Lumpur gained 0.57 percent, or 10.56 points, to 1,872.38.

Malayan Banking rose 0.20 percent to 10.06 ringgit, while Malaysian Airline System shed 1.96 percent to 0.25 ringgit.

-- Jakarta ended up 0.36 percent, or 18.70 points, to 5,165.25.

Bank Negara Indonesia gained 0.47 percent at 5,350 rupiah, while cement manufacturer Semen Indonesia lost 1.22 percent at 16,250 rupiah.

-- Singapore closed up 0.55 percent, or 18.44 points, to 3,341.46.

United Overseas Bank gained 0.69 percent to Sg$23.25 while public transport firm ComfortDelGro eased 0.39 percent to Sg$2.53.

-- Bangkok added 0.28 percent, or 4.41 points, to 1,564.58.

Insurance company Bangkok Life Assurance gained 2.44 percent to 84.00 baht, while Delta Electronics rose 2.77 percent to 65.00 baht.

-- Mumbai advanced 0.44 percent, or 117.34 points, to 26,560.15.

Bharat Electronics surged 20.00 percent to 2,114.40 rupees, while Havells India rose 8.27 percent to 295.30 rupees.

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