Asia stocks rise after strong US earnings results


BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets rose Wednesday after earnings from Apple Inc. and other U.S. companies blew past expectations, providing a distraction from the economic and political turbulence intensifying in Europe over its debt crisis.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.8 percent to 9,546.69 as the yen slipped against the dollar — a movement generally benefiting the country's exporters.

South Korea's Kospi index gained 0.2 percent to 1,967.28 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng ticked up 0.1 percent to 20,699.48. Benchmarks in Taiwan and the Philippines also rose.

The New Zealand and Australian stock exchanges were closed for public holidays. Indonesia and mainland China fell.

U.S. corporate earnings propelled the Dow Jones industrial average higher Tuesday.

Apple again proved skeptics wrong by reporting blowout iPhone sales. The world's most valuable company sold 35 million iPhones in January through March, nearly twice as many as in the same period a year earlier. By beating expectations on iPhone sales, Apple sailed past analyst earnings and revenue forecasts as well.

AT&T also reported first-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations, while Verizon — AT&T's main rival — was close behind. 3M rose sharply after delivering an impressive quarterly report. Candy maker Hershey Co. said its first-quarter profit rose 24 percent on higher prices and cost cutting.

Still, trading is likely to be "restrained" before the end of a two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting later Wednesday and the release of the Fed's latest assessment of the U.S. economy, said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

"There will likely be small adjustments to the Fed's economic projections, including lower unemployment and higher near-term inflation," the analysts wrote in an email. "There is little sentiment for additional stimulus at the current time."

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.6 percent at 13,001.56. The S&P 500 rose 0.4 percent to 1,371.97. The Nasdaq composite index fell 8.85 points to 2,961.60.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was up 14 cents to $103.69 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 44 cents to settle at $103.55 in New York on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3199 from $1.3189 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar rose to 81.51 yen from 81.26 yen.