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Asia: Shares set for more gains with Japan shut as bonds retreat

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[WELLINGTON] Asian stocks were poised to extend their advance, with most index futures signalling gains as US benchmarks rose to new records.

Shares in New Zealand snapped a two-day decline, rising with futures on stock gauges in Sydney and Seoul, while contracts on Hong Kong indexes retreated. While markets in Japan are closed Wednesday, the yen maintained a pullback with the dollar broadly stronger against its major peers. Government debt in Australia and New Zealand reverted to losses, with odds on an interest-rate increase from the Federal Reserve next month reaching 100 per cent. Gold held declines following a copper-led rally in industrial metals.

The S&P 500 Index climbed alongside the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite Index Tuesday, ratcheting up fresh highs amid speculation the world's largest economy is strong enough to withstand the first rate hike in a year.

A switch in sentiment toward Donald Trump's presidency has helped fuel gains, with bets the president-elect will bolster spending via fiscal stimulus spurring wagers on policy tightening. The new stock highs also came as American companies ended a five-quarter profit slump.

Market voices on:

"Bulls have got control here and US equity and many other developed markets are going higher, at least in the short term," Chris Weston, chief markets analyst in Melbourne at IG Ltd, said in an e-mail. "We should see fairly calm conditions for today's Asian market open."

New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 Index, the first major stock gauge to start trading each day, added 0.6 per cent as of 7:51am Tokyo time, after falling 0.6 per cent over the previous two sessions.

Futures on Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index were up 0.2 per cent, while those on the Kospi index in South Korea gained 0.1 per cent. Hang Seng and Hang Seng China Enterprise Index futures slipped 0.1 per cent.