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Asia: Markets mostly higher, US reports lift dollar
[HONG KONG] Asian markets mostly rose Wednesday, with Tokyo higher as the dollar strengthened against the yen after two upbeat US reports provided more ammunition for the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates.
With US markets ending largely unchanged, the region had few catalysts to fuel trade, while Greece's ongoing bailout reform talks continue to keep foreign exchange dealers occupied.
Tokyo rose 0.36 per cent, Hong Kong added 0.35 per cent and Seoul gained 0.10 per cent while Sydney edged up 0.11 per cent.
However, Shanghai sank 1.25 per cent after MSCI Inc held off including the bourse in its index of global benchmarks, saying it needed to resolve new issues with Chinese regulators. The market's rise in the past few days had been helped by expectations it would be added, which would have attracted more funds.
Expectations that the US central bank will start raising interest rates before the year's end were amplified on Tuesday after the JOLTS (Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey) report showed a surge in job vacancies.
Separately, a small business survey showed businesses were hiring more people and paying them more.
The news lifted the dollar, which was at 124.42 yen in Tokyo, compared with 124.31 yen in New York late Tuesday.
However, with borrowing costs likely going up, equities in New York ended little changed. The Dow and S&P 500 ended flat and the Nasdaq fell 0.15 per cent.
Currency traders pushed the euro up as officials pore over Greece's proposals for overhauling its bailout.
The euro edged up to US$1.1300 and 140.58 yen in Tokyo Wednesday, from US$1.1280 and 140.23 yen in US trade.
With Greece facing a deadline at the end of the month for a debt repayment, Athens desperately needs to reach an agreement that will unlock billions of euros to help it avoid a default and possible exit from the eurozone.
As Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prepares to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday for talks, Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU's vice president for the euro, told reporters that reaching an agreement "within (the) coming days is possible".
Oil prices inched higher on expectations of a further decline in US crude stockpiles. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery gained 55 cents to US$60.69 while Brent crude for July was up 25 cents to US$65.13.
Gold fetched US$1,177.91 compared with US$1,181.70 late Tuesday.