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Asia: Shares mostly higher on Wall Street gains

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 - 10:41
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[HONG KONG] Asian shares mostly rose on Tuesday, lifted by gains on Wall Street after strong US housing data added to signs the world's top economy is strengthening.

The dollar headed higher Monday, notching its third straight day of gains against the euro, helped by improving confidence in the US housing sector.

Tokyo added 0.60 per cent in early trades, Sydney gained 0.35 per cent and Seoul dipped 0.21 per cent.

Hong Kong shares rose 0.61 per cent and Shanghai pushed up 0.14 per cent.

The Thai baht slid 0.5 per cent to 35.565 per dollar, it's lowest level since 2009, after an unprecedented bomb attack killed at least 21 people and injured scores in Bangkok. Thai shares had not yet started trading.

Wall Street rose on Monday led by gains in Disney, which got a boost from plans to add "Star Wars" attractions in its theme parks, along with tech giant Apple and McDonald's.

Investors were also cheered by a report from the National Association of Home Builders showing homebuilder sentiment hit its highest level since the recession ended in 2009.

"There is a gradual strengthening in the US housing market, with positive implications for employment and economic growth if sustained," Michael Sherwood, head of investment strategy at Perpetual in Sydney, told Bloomberg News.

Traders are now awaiting the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday, which could shed light on the US central bank's timing for an interest rate rise.

Speculation over when the Fed will raise its key rate for the first time in almost a decade has taken stage after China's central bank stabilised the yuan after a surprise devaluation last week.

"While the market reaction to the yuan's depreciation last week was completely overdone, it will be equally unproductive for investors to believe that the currency's depreciation will reduce China's macro risk," Sherwood said.

Chinese shares also got a boost from a pledge by the securities regulator on Friday to support equities for years, extending measures unleashed during a market crash in June.

In currency markets, the dollar was quoted at 124.47 yen, slightly up from 124.41 yen in New York late Monday.

The euro traded at US$1.1076 and 137.81 yen from US$1.1078 and 137.81 yen.

Oil prices continued their longest losing streak this year, after notching seven weeks of falls, as fears of a lasting global oversupply weighed on the market.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery fell seven cents to US$41.84 and Brent crude for October tumbled 13 cents to US$48.61 a barrel in morning trade.

AFP