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The surprise Berkshire news pushed airline shares sharply higher in after-market trades/AFP

Enterprise

Asian markets mostly higher, Buffett’s Apple move boosts techs

Nicholas Kamm Warren Buffett has taken a $1 billion stake in Apple, whose stock has been in an extended slump/AFP

Nicholas Kamm Warren Buffett has taken a $1 billion stake in Apple, whose stock has been in an extended slump/AFP

HONG KONG, China, May 17 – Most Asian markets climbed Tuesday, as tech firms were boosted by news of Warren Buffett’s billion-dollar stake in Apple and energy stocks tracked further gains in oil prices.

After last week’s sell-off, US investors provided a blistering lead Monday with all three main indexes sharply higher, pumped up by news of Buffett’s giant stake in the iPhone maker.

Apple, which has tumbled since it last month reported the first fall in sales of the popular smartphones, rallied 3.7 percent on the announcement.

And Asian suppliers to the firm followed suit, with Tokyo-listed Alps Electric, Japan Display and Taiyo Yuden enjoying strong gains. Hon Hai in Taipei added 0.4 percent.

Overall stock markets in the region were also broadly higher.

Tokyo jumped more than one percent thanks to a further rally in the dollar against the yen, a day after rising 0.3 percent following reports of a possible delay in a sales tax increase.

Attention now turns to the release of Japan’s first-quarter economic growth data on Wednesday.

Among other markets Hong Kong ended 1.2 percent higher and Sydney gained 0.7 percent, while Singapore put on 1.5 percent. But Shanghai dipped 0.3 percent.

Energy firms were among the big gainers as oil prices pushed higher still, a day after closing at six-month highs in reaction to a Goldman Sachs report that the petroleum market was in a short-term supply deficit.

On Tuesday West Texas Intermediate was up 1.3 percent at $48.33 and Brent put on 0.8 percent to $49.30.

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‘Dollar coming back’

“Markets seem to be in a relatively sweet spot with a steadily stronger US dollar and resilient commodities prices,” Angus Nicholson, a markets analyst at IG Ltd. in Melbourne, said by e-mail.

“Many investors have been predicting a pullback in markets, but despite all the negativity markets have continued to grind higher.”

Australia’s Woodside Petroleum soared 2.9 percent and mining giant BHP Billiton added 3.5 percent. In Hong Kong CNOOC ended three percent higher and PetroChina was 2.5 percent up.

The optimistic tone filtered through to forex markets, where the dollar rose to 109.43 yen, up from 109.06 yen in New York and sharply higher than the 18-month lows around 105.50 yen touched two weeks ago.

Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, told Bloomberg News: “The US dollar is coming back and that’s where it will be for the second half of the second quarter and into the third quarter.”

The optimism on trading floors saw the dollar dip against higher-yielding, or riskier, emerging market currencies.

The Australian dollar rose 0.9 percent, South Korea’s won gained 0.5 percent and the Indonesian rupiah was up 0.1 percent. The oil-reliant Malaysian ringgit edged up 0.2 percent and the Thai baht moved 0.1 percent higher.

In early European trade London climbed 0.5 percent and Paris added 0.3 percent while Frankfurt rose 0.6 percent.

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Key figures around 0810 GMT

Tokyo: Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 16,652.80 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,843.68 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.2 percent at 20,118.80 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 6,184.42

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1320 from $1.1318 Monday

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.43 yen from 109.06 yen

New York – Dow: UP 1.0 percent at 17,710.71 (close)

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