Asian markets boosted by US data

[HONG KONG] Asian markets mostly rose for a second straight day on 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 climbed for a fourth straight session, adding 0.32 per cent, or 57.21 points, to end at 17,720.43. Sydney gained 0.77 per cent, or 40.5 points, to close at 5,321.8, while Seoul rose 0.21 per cent, or 4.08 points, to close at 1,969.91.

Shanghai advanced 0.58 per cent, or 15.98 points, to 2,779.53, but Hong Kong fell 0.95 per cent, or 225.68 points, to 23,428.62.

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.

News that US online sales rose 16 per cent on "Cyber Monday" from a year earlier, according to the Adobe 2014 Digital Index, also helped to cheer markets.

The estimate for Monday's sales, often seen as the annual highpoint for online retail, helped offset disappointing data on the "Black Friday" kickoff of the Christmas 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 close, 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, said the latest data confirmed "the US economy seems to be leading" global growth momentum.

Forex dealers also cheered the news, pushing the dollar to 119.30 yen in Tokyo - around levels last seen in 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$1.2374 and 147.60 yen, against US$1.2381 and 147.62 yen.

Oil prices edged up after tumbling 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 52 cents to US$67.40 a barrel and Brent added 35 cents to US$70.89. 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 a global oversupply, sending the price of black gold plunging to five-year lows.

Gold was at US$1,200.38 an ounce, compared with US$1,198.25 late Tuesday.

In other markets: - Mumbai closed flat at 28,442.71 points.

Tata Motors was down 0.09 per cent at 528.50 rupees while Reliance Industries closed up 0.38 per cent at 966.20 rupees.

- Bangkok closed up 0.04 per cent or 0.58 points to 1,594.58.

Supermarket operator Big C Super center soared 6.77 per cent to 268.00 baht, while media operator BEC World dropped 3.81 per cent to 56.75 baht.

- Kuala Lumpur fell 27.82 points, or 1.56 per cent, to 1,758.15.

Malayan Banking shed 2.8 per cent to 8.95 ringgit, while Petronas Gas lost 1.0 per cent to 20.90. UMW Holdings gained 0.7 per cent to 11.00 ringgit.

- Jakarta ended down 0.19 per cent, or 9.75 points, at 5,166.04.

Palm oil firm Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology gained 6.33 per cent to 7,975 rupiah, while cement maker Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa slipped 1.95 per cent to 25,200 rupiah.

- Singapore tumbled 0.57 per cent, or 18.93 points, to close at 3,303.39.

Oil-rig maker Keppel Corp closed 1.06 per cent lower at SgUS$8.44, while Singapore Airlines added 0.37 per cent to end at SgUS$10.94.

- Taipei added 1.55 per cent, or 140.47 points, to 9,175.26.

Smartphone maker HTC rose 1.94 per cent to TwUS$94.5 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.36 per cent higher at TwUS$138.0.

- Wellington put on 1.34 per cent, or 73.03 points, to 5,503.07.

Contact Energy was up 0.48 per cent at NZUS$6.31 and Xero tacked on 0.31 per cent to NZUS$16.40.

- Manila closed 0.22 per cent higher, adding 16.52 points to 7,360.75.

Technology stock Xurpas surged 41.18 per cent to 8.40 pesos while SM Prime Holdings fell 0.12 per cent to 17 pesos.


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