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Asia: Markets rally as investors shrug off nerves

[HONG KONG] Asian markets rose on Tuesday, tracking records on Wall Street as investors appeared to shrug off nervousness over tensions on the Korean peninsula, with US President Donald Trump visiting Seoul.

US stocks hit fresh highs for the second straight day while London's FTSE 100 also powered to a new record close.

The positive trend continued in Asia, where markets edged up despite concerns that Mr Trump's two-day visit to South Korea would raise tensions with Pyongyang or trigger further weapons tests by the nuclear-armed regime.

Mr Trump has traded military threats and insults with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, dubbing him "Rocket Man" and prompting an unusually personal rebuke in return, with Pyongyang calling him a "mentally deranged US dotard".

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Mr Trump's angry outbursts about Japan and China engaging in "unfair" trade practices have also sparked worry among exporters, as the US leader continues to push for an end to the "massive trade deficit" with foreign countries.

Tokyo and Singapore were up 0.8 per cent while Hong Kong gained one per cent. Shanghai rose 0.5 per cent but Seoul lost 0.3 per cent.

Chip-related shares were broadly higher after Broadcom launched a US$130-billion unsolicited bid for rival chip manufacturer Qualcomm in a cash and stock offer.

Renesas Electronics rose 1.61 per cent to 1,449 yen while chipmaker Rohm gained 1.22 per cent to 11,550 yen.


Sydney briefly broke above 6,000 points for the first time since the 2008 global financial crisis, signalling investor optimism about economic recovery as central banks begin to wind back their stimulus packages.

Australian mining stocks rose on the back of improving oil and iron ore prices.

Crude prices hit a two-year high last week and rose overnight, due to growing global demand as Opec leads efforts to limit supply.

Traders are keeping a close eye on oil-rich Saudi Arabia, where a sweeping crackdown has seen princes, ministers as well as billionaire tycoon Al-Waleed bin Talal arrested on corruption allegations.

Tensions have also surged between the kingdom and Iran as Riyadh said an intercepted missile attack on the country, allegedly by Tehran-backed rebels in Yemen, "may amount to an act of war".

Tehran in turn accused Riyadh of committing war crimes in Yemen, where Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and predominantly Shi'ite Iran back opposing sides.

"Oil prices soared overnight as the Saudi corruption purge and coincident face-off with Iran have combined to increase geopolitical risk and cause some traders to consider a possible and material supply disruption for the first time in years," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

"It's not just the purge, it's concerns about the Kingdom's stability and tensions with Iran."