Asia shares rise; Japanese benchmark at one-year high

Asian markets gained on Wednesday as investor sentiment were bolstered after the Dow hitting a new record close overnight just shy of the psychological 20,000 level.

Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.49 percent, led by gains in its materials sub-index, which was up 1.24 percent and its financials sub-index, which gained 0.52 percent.

Shares of Bellamy’s Australia, suspended for the past week week, were in the news on Wednesday as the company requested the suspension to extend for another three weeks, amid talks with key suppliers and manufacturers. Bellamy last traded at 6.68 Australian dollars ($4.86) per share.

“The fact that this situation has gone on for so long and that negotiations with suppliers are under way suggests that there may be material issues with the company,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note on Wednesday.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 was up 0.14 percent, after touching a one-year high earlier.

In South Korea, the Kospi was up 0.2 percent, while in Taiwan’s Taiex slipped 0.03 percent.

Taiwanese multinational hardware and electronics company Acer fell 1.5 percent to 13.10 Taiwanese dollars per share. The company announced late Tuesday that it would put its Indian smartphone business on hold due to the recent demonetization policy and that it plans to buy back shares worth T$35.4 billion ($1.1 billion).

The South Korea-listed Samsung Securities plunged 4.76 percent to 32,000 won on news that it would issue new shares worth 345 billion won ($296.28 million).

Chinese shares were also in positive territory, the Shanghai composite rose 0.95 percent and the Shenzhen composite was up 0.503 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng added 0.6 percent, snapping a four-session losing streak.

“It’s a good day to be an equity bull however, it’s a slow grind higher as opposed to an explosion in demand and the moves we are seeing in many markets are fairly subdued,” Chris Weston, Angus Nicholson, chief market analyst at spreadbettor IG, said in a note on Tuesday.

U.S. blue-chips index Dow Jones industrial average closed up 0.46 percent at 19,974.62, a mere 25 points away from the key level of 20,000.

The S&P 500 ended up 0.36 percent at 2,270.76.

The Nasdaq composite gained 0.49 percent to 5,483.94 and had touched a new all-time high during the Tuesday session.

On the economic data diary, Thailand’s central bank decision will be released at 3:00pm local time and Malaysia will announce its consumer price index (CPI) for November at 12:00 pm local time.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, last traded at 103.09. Against the dollar, the yen was at 117.6 while the Australian dollar fetched $0.7249. The Singapore dollar was at 1.4441 against the greenback as of 11:23 am local time, after falling to its weakest since 2009 earlier at 1.4506.

The dollar jumped to a 14-year high late on Tuesday U.S time after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s positive comments on the labor market, a key economic indicator for the Fed in its decision to tighten monetary policy.

In energy news, U.S. crude stockpiles fell by 4.1 million barrels last week, compared to Reuters analysts expecting just a decrease of 2.5 million, as refineries boosted output, according to American Petroleum Institute data.

Crude futures were up for the fourth straight session with U.S. crude oil futures up 0.62 percent at $53.63 a barrel on Wednesday Asian time, while Brent climbed 0.52 percent to $55.64.

Source: CNBC