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Asian Shares Mostly Higher After Wall Street Gains

by December 21, 2016 General
CANBERA (dpa-AFX) – Asian stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, although underlying sentiment remained supported by higher oil prices and continued optimism about the U.S. economy for 2017.

Oil prices nudged higher to trade above $53 a barrel in Asian deals after API data showed U.S. stockpiles declined last week. The EIA report due out later in the day is also expected to show a draw of 2.5 million barrels in the week ending Dec. 16.

China’s Shanghai Composite index climbed 34.55 points or 1.11 percent to 3,137.43 to snap a two-session losing streak, as liquidity worries eased and the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission pledged to deepen reforms in state-owned sectors. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was up 80 points or 0.37 percent at 21,809.

Japanese shares closed slightly lower in choppy trade as a slight uptick in the yen overshadowed overnight advances in U.S. stocks and the government’s upbeat assessment of the domestic economy. ‘The Japanese economy is on a moderate recovery, while delayed improvement in part can be seen,’ the Cabinet Office said in its December report.

The Nikkei average fell 50.04 points or 0.26 percent to 19,444.49 while the broader Topix index closed 0.48 percent lower at 1,544.94. Panasonic dropped 1.7 percent after it unveiled plans to make PanaHome Corp its wholly-owned subsidiary.

Australian shares hit a 16-month high after the Dow and Nasdaq Composite hit record highs overnight on optimism about President-elect Donald Trump’s new policy agenda to boost growth.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 22.40 points or 0.40 percent to 5,613.50, its highest level since August 6, 2015, while the broader All Ordinaries index finished 22 points or 0.39 percent higher at 5,662.

Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto climbed over 1 percent even as Chinese steel and iron ore futures sagged for a sixth day. Banks and energy stocks ended on a mixed note. REA Group rallied 2.5 percent after selling its European businesses for A$189.7 million.

Shares of Bellamy’s Australia remain suspended until 13 January 2017 as the troubled infant formula continues talks with key suppliers and manufacturers to determine financial impacts linked to a fall in its Chinese sales.

Seoul stocks edged lower as market bellwether Samsung Electronics succumbed to selling pressure after recent winning streaks. The benchmark Kospi dropped 3.98 points or 0.19 percent to 2,037.96.

Samsung shares slid about half a percent to snap a three-day winning streak. Its subsidiary Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance slumped 6.3 percent while Samsung C&T, which is at the pinnacle of the group’s governance structure, rallied 3.9 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX-50 index rose 13.09 points or 0.19 percent to 6,802.76 despite disappointing trade balance and credit card spending data.

A2 Milk shares soared 5.9 percent after the milk supplier allayed concerns about the strength of the infant formula market. Tourism Holdings climbed 5.3 percent after announcing an acquisition to expand its operations in the world’s largest recreational vehicle market.

Malaysian shares were marginally lower after a government report showed the country’s consumer price inflation rose an annual 1.8 percent in November, faster than the 1.4 percent climb in the previous month. Economists had expected the inflation to ease slightly to 1.3 percent.

Indonesia’s Jakarta Composite index was declining 0.3 percent and the Taiwan Weighted lost 0.4 percent while India’s Sensex was moving up 0.2 percent and Singapore’s Straits Times index was gaining 0.1 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks hit fresh record highs to extend a six-week rally as traders shrugged off geopolitical concerns stemming from an apparent terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market and the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey. The Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose about half a percent, while the S&P 500 added 0.4 percent.

Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX