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Asia: Most stocks rally after fresh Wall St records

[HONG KONG] The seemingly unending run of records on Wall Street continued to help fan gains in Asia on Thursday, with Tokyo also buoyed by a weaker yen while Shanghai slipped after data showed China's economic growth moderating.

Another positive day of earnings provided a base for the Dow and S&P 500 to clock up fresh all-time highs while US investors were also hopeful Donald Trump can succeed in pushing through his tax cut plans.

However, there was a sobering warning from his Treasury chief Steven Mnuchin who warned markets could suffer a sharp sell-off if lawmakers on Capitol Hill do not pass the measures.

Still, for now investors are happy to go buying. Tokyo ended the morning session 0.7 per cent up at a 21-year high - and heading for a 13th straight gain which is its best run in 30 years.

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The weaker yen was providing extra support, along with confidence in the global economy and expectations for a clear election win for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday.

The Japanese currency was sitting at 113 to the dollar, boosting the country's exporters. The greenback has been lifted by speculation that a fiscal hawk could take the helm at the Fed early next year.

Among other markets Sydney rose 0.2 per cent, Singapore put on 0.3 per cent and Seoul was 0.1 per cent higher. Wellington and Taipei also chalked up gains.

Hong Kong was up 0.1 per cent but Shanghai slipped 0.5 per cent after figures showed a slight dip in Chinese growth.

CHINESE GROWTH

Beijing unveiled figures showing the world's number two economy grew 6.8 per cent in July-September, against 6.9 per cent in both the previous two quarters but in line with forecasts.

While a tad weaker, the data points to stability in the economy after years of slowing growth and will likely be welcomed by the Communist Party as it holds its twice-a-decade congress to hand Xi Jinping another five-year term.

Thursday's reading also indicated the economy was on course to beat the government's annual target of about 6.5 per cent.

"Relatively strong economic performance this year offers a good opportunity for the government to address several long-term economic issues," Raymond Yeung, chief Greater China economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Hong Kong, wrote in a recent report.

"Xi also needs to shift China's economy from a credit-intensive, property-led growth model to one that supports sustainable growth," he said, according to Bloomberg News.

Oil prices continued to rise following another report showing US inventories falling last week, while dealers also were hopeful Russia and OPEC can agree to extend a production cut that has supported the commodity over the past year.

Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, said members of the crude producers' group were keen to press on with the deal.

"I think OPEC is desperate to bring the market into equilibrium and mop up as much of the excess stockpiles, which was caused as a result of the free-for-all production approach over the last few years," he said in a note.

AFP