Asian shares mostly up after new Wall St record

January 16, 2014
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Shanghai Stock Exchange/AFP
Shanghai Stock Exchange/AFP

, HONG KONG, January 16- Asia’s markets mostly rose on Thursday following a record breaking close on Wall Street as investors welcomed fresh positive US data and an upbeat Federal Reserve report on the economy.

The dollar also resumed its uptrend against the yen, while the Australian dollar sank against the greenback in response to a weak jobs report.

Tokyo fell 0.39 percent, or 61.53 points to 15,747.20, giving up earlier gains on profit taking after Wednesday’s strong rally, while Seoul rose 0.21 percent, or 4.04 points, to end at 1,957.32.

Sydney jumped 1.21 percent, or 63.7 points, to 5,309.1 as an upbeat output report from resources giant Rio Tinto lifted commodities shares, offsetting the soft jobs figures.

Hong Kong added 0.37 percent, or 84.41 points to 22,986.41 and Shanghai closed flat, edging up 0.35 points to 2,023.70.

Investor confidence was given a boost by an all-time high close for the S&P 500  its first record of the new year after a positive report on the US economy from the Federal Reserve.

The central bank said in its “Beige Book” that the economy grew at a “moderate” pace across most regions at the end of 2013, with muted price and wage rises.

The survey, covering the end of November and December, showed hiring in most areas was slow but steady, “with few instances of rapid growth but very few reports of staff cuts or plant closings”.

Also Thursday the New York Federal Reserve bank said manufacturing activity picked up in New York state during December, while the Labor Department said its producer price index rose 0.4 percent in same month, slightly above estimates.

The news came a day after better than expected data on December retail sales and helped to soothe concerns about the economy after Friday’s worse than forecast jobs report.

On Wall Street the S&P 500 climbed 0.52 percent to a fresh record high of 1,848.38, while the Dow gained 0.66 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.76 percent.

Currency traders moved back into the dollar after being scared off by the surprisingly weak US payrolls figures last week.

In afternoon trade the greenback bought 104.72 yen compared with 104.59 yen late in New York and well up from the 104.40 yen in Asia earlier Wednesday.

The euro bought $1.3610 and 142.54 yen early Thursday compared with $1.3606 and 142.29 yen.

The dollar also jumped against its Australian counterpart after Canberra released data showing the unemployment rate was unmoved but the economy shed 22,600 jobs in December.

The Australian dollar fell to 88.03 US cents, near a three-year low touched earlier in the day, from 89.03 cents on Wednesday as the weak figures increased the likelihood the central bank will cut interest rates to kickstart a stuttering economy.

Oil prices were holding steady in mid-morning Asian trade Thursday, with US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in February down eight cents at $94.09 and Brent North Sea crude for February down $1.26 at $105.87.

Gold fetched $1,238.60 at 0800 GMT compared with $1,239.10 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

— Taipei ended up 0.11 percent, or 9.56 points, at 8,612.11.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 1.9 percent to Tw$107.0 while smartphone maker HTC fell 3.25 percent to Tw$134.0.

— Wellington gained 0.17 percent, or 8.26 points, to 4,921.29.

Telecom gained 1.25 percent to NZ$2.43 and Air New Zealand added 0.6 percent to NZ$1.70, while clothing retailer Hallenstein Glasson Holdings tumbled 17.7 percent to NZ$3.50 after it reported a massive drop in sales in December.

— Manila added 0.40 percent, or 24.12 points, to end at 5,982.24.

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