Asia report: Most markets higher after bumper Wall Street session
Most markets in Asia were higher on Thursday, buoyed by a bumper session on Wall Street overnight which saw New York’s three main indices close at record levels.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.35% at 20,954.72, as the yen strengthened on the dollar to last trade at JPY 112.35.
On the corporate front, Softbank led the gains as its stock jumped 3.59%, while Toshiba was ahead 3.77% after the Tokyo Stock Exchange cancelled its ‘security on alert’ designation on the technology conglomerate.
Kobe Steel was up 0.46% after major selloffs earlier in the week, after the company admitted it had faked data on its products in a bid to meet the requirements of customers.
The exact extent of the fabrication was still unknown, after the company’s president said there could well be further cases above the 70 currently identified.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite lost 0.02% ato 3,387.65, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 0.15% softer at 2,023.36.
South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.68% at 2,474.76, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was 0.24% firmer at 28,459.03.
Seoul’s strength came despite weakness in blue-chip technology stocks, with LG Display off 5.12% and SK Hynix weakening 0.67%.
In Hong Kong, shares in Great Wall Motor were suspended amid reports the company was in discussions with BMW about a joint venture in China.
Focus was turned stateside for much of the session, after the release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes from their September meeting.
The minutes suggested the central bank was of the opinion that the US economy had the strength to withstand a rates hike in December, which the FOMC said was “likely to be warranted”.
According to the CME Group’s FedWatch, expectations for one rate hike before the end of the calendar year was around 88% on Thursday.
“In a week when North Korean tensions prevented the dollar from rallying, the lack of unambiguously hawkish Federal Open Market Committee minutes was just the excuse that foreign exchange traders needed to send the dollar lower,” noted BK Asset Management forex strategist Kathy Lien.
Oil prices were lower during Asian trading, with Brent crude last down 0.83% at $56.47 and West Texas Intermediate off 1.01% at $50.75.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was ahead 0.39% at 5,794.47, although the major miners were on the back foot, with Fortescue Metals down 1.81% and Rio Tinto off 1.4% after a fall in iron ore prices.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 eked out gains of 0.01% to close at 8,068.12, led higher by the ever-present Synlait - a dairy product and infant food exporter - which was ahead 6%.
Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.36% at AUD 1.2794 and the Kiwi advancing 0.41% to NZD 1.4057.