Asian stocks mixed after upbeat US data


HONG KONG: Asian shares were mixed Wednesday after upbeat US economic data sent Wall Street soaring to a fresh all-time high and pushed the greenback to notch up strong gains against the yen.

Trading remained volatile in Tokyo, with the Nikkei swinging between positive and negative territory before edging up 0.10 percent by noon.

Japanese stocks have made sharp intraday movements since the index plunged 7.3 percent last Thursday as investors rushed to book profits after poor Chinese manufacturing data.

In other markets, Hong Kong was down 0.71 percent, Seoul was up 0.54 percent, Shanghai gained 0.18 percent while Sydney traded flat.

In post-holiday New York trading the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.69 percent at 15,409.39, a new all-time high on strong gains in US home prices and consumer confidence.

The widely watched S&P/Case-Shiller index of US home prices showed the price of a home in the 20 largest cities rose 10.9 percent in the year to March, the largest year-on-year increase since 2006.

Consumer confidence in the US — a key barometer of the health of the world’s largest economy — surged to 76.2 in May, up from 69.0 in April, hitting the highest level since February 2008.

Stocks were also boosted by indications of continued monetary policy support, with some market watchers expressing confidence that the US Federal Reserve would maintain its bond-buying program.

In currency markets, the dollar bought 102.48 yen in early Asian trade Wednesday compared with 102.32 yen in New York late Tuesday and 101.93 yen in Tokyo Tuesday afternoon.

The euro fetched $1.2845 and 131.56 yen against $1.2855 and 131.61 yen in US trade.

Oil prices eased in Asia, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, dropping 20 cents to $94.81 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery shedding 11 cents to $104.12.

All eyes were on the US Department of Energy which later Wednesday is set to release data on US crude oil inventories for the week ended May 24.

Gold was at $1,389.20 at 0304 GMT from $1,381.20 late Tuesday.


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