Asia markets carve out slight gains as the dollar continues to languish

Asian stocks notched moderate gains on Wednesday, tracking sizable increases seen on Wall Street overnight as the dollar remained in the doldrums.

South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index edged up 0.17 percent as large cap technology names extended the moderate gains seen last session. Heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix rose 0.9 percent and 1.57 percent, respectively.

Steel plays were also higher in the morning, with blue-chip Posco jumping 5.31 percent and Hyundai Steel rising 2.62 percent.

Hyundai Heavy Industries soared 8.37 percent after the South Korean shipbuilder announced it was aiming for 7.99 trillion won ($7.52 billion) in sales this year, Reuters said. Hyundai Heavy shares had plunged last week when it unveiled plans to list its Hyundai Oilbank subsidiary. Shares of other shipbuilders also jumped, with Daewoo Shipbuilding rising 11.4 percent.

Also of note was a tweet from President Donald Trump, which took a jab at North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump’s tweet, which boasted that his “Nuclear Button” is “bigger” than Kim’s, came after South Korea on Tuesday said it was interested in hosting talks with the North on January 9.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.31 percent after soaring 2 percent on Tuesday, with technology shares continuing their ascent. Apple supplier AAC Technologies rose 1.34 percent and heavyweight Tencent tacked on 1.24 percent.

Mainland markets also trended higher, with the Shanghai Composite advancing 0.88 percent and the Shenzhen Composite adding 0.91 percent. Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.18 percent as mining stocks led the index higher. Rio Tinto and BHP, the country’s two-largest miners, were up 2.31 percent and 1.82 percent, respectively.

Gold producers were a mixed bag, but traded higher on the whole, with the S&P/ASX All Ords Gold sub-index rising 1.26 percent.

MSCI’s broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was last higher by 0.38 percent at 579.49, trading near its all-time high of 591.50.

Japanese markets are closed on Wednesday for an exchange holiday.

Markets stateside closed with gains in the first trading session of the new year as technology names moved higher. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite hit closing highs, with the latter closing above the 7,000 mark for the first time.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.42 percent, or 104.79 points, to close at 24,824.01.

The dollar continued to languish on Wednesday, having tumbled to a more than three-month low against a basket of six currencies overnight. The dollar index was mostly flat at 91.875 at 12:54 p.m. HK/SIN, after trading at the 92 handle during the Asian trading session in the last session.

The slump in the U.S. currency came after the dollar index recorded its largest annual fall since 2003.

Against the Japanese yen, the dollar was steady at 112.30.

The euro gave up some overnight gains against the greenback after climbing overnight. The common currency traded at $1.2050 after had touching as high $1.2082 on Tuesday.

The Korean won gave up some gains after touching a more than three-year high against the dollar in the last session. On Wednesday, the currency traded at 1,065.30 won to the dollar after strengthening as much as 1,058.97 in the last session.

Oil prices were steady on Wednesday after touching their highest levels since mid-2015 in the last session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude inched higher by 0.03 percent to trade at $60.39 per barrel. Brent crude futures was off by 0.05 percent at $66.54.

A high-profile proposed merger between U.S.-based MoneyGram International and Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial Services Group has fallen through after the companies failed to obtain regulatory approval. A joint statement from the companies said Ant Financial has paid a $30 million termination fee to MoneyGram following the termination.

Source: CNBC

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