Asian shares gain as Ukraine fears recede

AFP
A man passes before a share prices board in Tokyo on May 22, 2014
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Asian shares rose Tuesday following a bounce on Wall Street as fears ebbed of a direct military clash between Russia and Ukraine and the focus turned to a keynote speech this week by the US Federal Reserve chief.

Tokyo gained 0.83 percent, or 127.19 points, to 15,449.79 and Seoul added 0.88 percent, or 18.01 points, to 2,071.14.

Sydney rose 0.66 percent, or 36.7 points, to 5,623.8.

Global mining giant BHP posted a 23.2 percent jump in annual net profit and said it would create a new independent company by spinning off non-core assets to reduce costs and boost productivity.

Shares in BHP closed 1.35 percent higher ahead of the announcement.

Hong Kong climbed 0.67 percent, or 167.49 points, to 25,122.95 and Shanghai ended up 0.26 percent, or 5.86 points, at 2,245.33

The gains came after US stocks rebounded Monday from last week's Ukraine-linked setback, with the Dow surging and the Nasdaq reaching a 14-year high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 1.06 percent at 16,838.74 while the broad-based S&P 500 added 0.85 percent to 1,971.74.

The Dow had led a sell-off Friday as news that Ukrainian artillery had destroyed part of a Russian military column spooked investors.

But Russia on Monday said that "certain progress" had been made during a marathon meeting in Berlin between the two countries' foreign ministers and their counterparts from Germany and France.

- Greenback holds steady -

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite gained 0.97 percent to 4,508.31 -- its highest level since March 31, 2000, when the market was on the cusp of a nearly 4,000-point crash as the tech bubble burst.

In forex markets, the dollar was at 102.62 yen in afternoon Asian trade, up from 102.57 yen in New York late Monday and 102.32 yen in Tokyo earlier Monday.

The greenback is expected to bounce in volatile forex trading this week, ahead of a speech on Friday by US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen at the central bank's annual economic policy symposium. Investors will be looking for any hint of a change to the Fed's interest rate plans.

Last month Yellen told Congress the Fed would hold its near-zero interest rate policy until the US economy strengthens, but may raise rates if the jobs market keeps improving.

Later Tuesday, investors were looking to US inflation data for July to get a snapshot of the state of the world's number one economy.

The euro bought $1.3351 and 137.04 yen against $1.3363 and 137.05 yen in US trade.

In oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery rose 38 cents to $96.79 while Brent crude for October was up 23 cents to $101.83.

Gold traded at $1,300.30 an ounce at 1050 GMT compared to $1,302.22 an ounce late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Singapore rose 0.11 percent, or 3.65 points, to 3,316.43.

Agribusiness company Wilmar International was down 0.32 percent at Sg$3.16 while real estate developer Capitaland advanced 2.13 percent to Sg$3.36.

-- Kuala Lumpur gained 0.56 percent, or 10.41 points, to 1,872.16.

Utility giant Tenaga Nasional added 0.8 percent to 12.40 ringgit, while Public Bank rose 0.5 percent to 19.34. UMW Holdings fell 0.5 percent to 12.30 ringgit.

-- Bangkok added 0.03 percent, or 0.49 points, to 1,542.85.

Food production company Charoen Pokphand Foods rose 3.45 percent to 30.00 baht, while residential developer Pruksa Real Estate gained 2.16 percent to 35.50 baht.

-- Jakarta ended up 0.16 percent, or 8.42 points, at 5,165.17.

Palm oil firm Astra Agro Lestari gained 1.82 percent to 26,550 rupiah, while food manufacturer Indofood Sukses Makmur slipped 1.75 percent to 7,000 rupiah.

-- Wellington rose 0.85 percent, or 43.09 points, to 5,114.21.

Air New Zealand was up 2.44 percent at NZ$2.095 and Fletcher Building gained 0.44 percent to NZ$9.09.

-- Taipei jumped 1.12 percent, or 102.47 points, to 9,243.78.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.81 percent higher at Tw$124.0 while leading chip design house MediaTek gained 2.0 percent to Tw$510.0.

-- Manila climbed 0.79 percent, or 55.17 points, to 7,082.75.

Top-traded Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. rose 0.43 percent to 3,250 points while Ayala Land Inc. added 1.69 percent to 33.15 pesos.

-- Mumbai rose 0.11 percent, or 29.71 points, to 26,420.67 points.

In the session, the 30-stock benchmark index briefly touched a new high of 26,530.67 points.

Muthoot Finance soared 9.65 percent to 194.95 rupees, while Berger Paints climbed 9.13 percent to 340.00 rupees.

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