Asian markets cheered by Wall Street rally

[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose on Wednesday, supported by record gains in US share markets after stellar growth figures from the world's top economy.

Tokyo opened 1.17 per cent higher, Hong Kong added 0.15 per cent, Seoul gained 0.38 and Sydney rose 0.22 per cent in morning trade.

Shanghai rebounded slightly after a three per cent drop the previous day, edging up 0.22 per cent.

Trade was thin ahead of the Christmas holiday, with half days in Hong Kong and Australia's financial markets.

Figures showing US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 5.0 per cent in the third quarter - up from the previous estimate of 3.9 percent and well above analyst predictions of 4.3 per cent - lit a fire under world equities.

Wall Street hit fresh records after last week's "Santa Claus rally," with the Dow stock index closing above 18,000 for the first time ever and the S&P 500 setting a new high.

It also supported the dollar, which advanced on renewed hopes the US Federal Reserve will raise interest rates before other leading central banks in mid-2015.

"It was another stellar day for US equities with a much better than expected revised GDP reading triggering the gains," said Stan Shamu at trading house IG Markets.

"The GDP reading also underpinned the greenback as it rallied against the Aussie, euro, yen and sterling." The US dollar was at 120.68 yen early Wednesday, compared with 120.71 yen in New York Tuesday afternoon.

The euro bought US$1.2173 and 146.96 yen against US$1.2171 and 146.94 yen in US trade.

In China, shares clawed back some gains after heading a slump in Asian markets Tuesday, with banks leading one of the biggest percentage falls of the year in Shanghai.

Shares had jumped more than 20 per cent since Beijing cut interest rates last month, rising above the 3,000 mark for the first time in three and a half years.

In Hong Kong, shares in China-based shopping mall developer Dalian Wanda added 0.64 per cent after closing lower on its first day of trading after a record-breaking IPO.

In Japan, shares in struggling Skymark Airlines fell 2.82 per cent on news Airbus was moving closer to filing a lawsuit over a failed US$2.2 billion jet order.

Sony was up 2.02 per cent after its Hollywood studio said it would screen The Interview in some US cinemas on Christmas Day, after originally cancelling the launch following a crippling cyber attack.

Oil prices edged lower in thin pre-holiday trade but analysts said losses were curbed by upbeat sentiment over robust US economic data.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for February delivery fell eight cents to US$57.04, while Brent crude for February eased 13 US cents to US$61.56.

Gold was at US$1,176.90 an ounce, compared with US$1,175.75 late Tuesday.


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