Asia: Markets climb after US data

[HONG KONG] Asian markets advanced for a second straight day Wednesday following another slate of impressive US data that helped the dollar march towards the 120-yen mark for the first time in seven years.

Oil prices edged up after suffering another sell-off in New York in reaction to news that Iraq had signed a deal that will see it export more crude to an already saturated world market.

Tokyo rallied 1.03 per cent by the break, Hong Kong added 1.10 per cent, Sydney gained 0.47 per cent and Shanghai was up 0.20 per cent while Seoul put on 0.16 per cent.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that US construction spending rose 1.1 per cent in September, almost twice as much as expected, while industry specialist AutoData said the car industry saw a healthy 4.6 per cent increase in sales last month.

Also, US online sales rose 16 per cent year on year Monday, according to the Adobe 2014 Digital Index.

The estimate for Cyber Monday, often seen as the annual highpoint for online retail, helped offset disappointing data on the "Black Friday" kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

The figures are the latest sign that the world's number one economy is back on track. On Wall Street US traders sent the Dow 0.58 per cent higher to another record, while the S&P 500 added 0.64 per cent and the Nasdaq put on 0.60 per cent.

Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in the United States, said the data confirmed that the US seems to be guiding the world economy.

Forex dealers also cheered the news, pushing the dollar to 119.41 yen in Tokyo - its highest since August 2007 and up from 119.22 yen in New York. The greenback has surged against the yen since the Bank of Japan's stimulus boost in October and is now heading towards the 120 yen mark, which it last broke in July 2007.

In other trade the euro bought US$1.2384 and 147.88 yen, against US$1.2381 and 147.62 yen.

Oil prices edged up after sinking Tuesday on news that Baghdad and autonomous Kurds had struck a deal that will boost the country's crude exports.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in January rose 94 cents to US$67.82 a barrel and Brent added 72 cents to US$71.26. WTI had fallen US$2.12 Tuesday while Brent had shed US$2.00.

The announcement comes less than a week after the OPEC oil cartel refused to cut production, despite an oversupply, sending the price of the black gold plunging to five-year lows.

Gold was at US$1,199.28 an ounce, compared with US$1,198.25 late Tuesday.


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