Strong manufacturing data and overnight gains on Wall Street gave Asian markets a boost on Wednesday.
KEEPING SCORE: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged 0.2 percent higher to 30,568.04 and the Shanghai Composite index jumped 0.8 percent to 3,375.18. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3 percent to 2,486.25 and the S&P ASX 200 in Australia ticked 0.1 percent higher to 6,069.10. Shares rose in Taiwan and Singapore but fell in Indonesia. Markets in Japan were closed for New Year holidays but reopen on Thursday.
WALL STREET: Technology and health care companies jumped Tuesday as U.S. stocks started the new year the same way they spent the last one: rising steadily and setting records. Energy companies, which struggled in 2017, also climbed. The Nasdaq composite busted through another milestone as it closed above 7,000 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index 0.8 percent to a record 2,695.81. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.4 percent to 24,824.01 and the Nasdaq composite jumped 1.5 percent to 7,006.90. The Russell 2000 index, which consists of smaller company stocks, gained 0.9 percent to 1,550.51, also a new high.
MANUFACTURING DATA: With little other news at the year’s start, surveys in China and India showing strong manufacturing growth in the world’s most populous countries helped push commodities prices higher, helping miners and other sectors. The J.P. Morgan Global Manufacturing PMI (purchasing managers index) showed output and new orders expanding at their fastest rate in nearly seven years in December.
ANALYST’S VIEWPOINT: “U.S. investors put their money where their mouth is, starting the year with a confidence-boosting rally in cyclical stocks. Driven by the coordinated global growth theme and no doubt reinforced by tax cuts, last night saw solid gains in US cyclical sectors including consumer discretionary; materials and info tech,” Ric Spooner of CMC Markets said in a commentary.
BITCOIN: Bitcoin rose after the Wall Street Journal reported that the venture capital firm Founders Fund, co-founded by Peter Thiel, bought around $15 million in bitcoin in mid-2017. The report cited anonymous sources. The digital currency rose 3.2 percent to $15,213.33 by midday Wednesday in Asia, according to Coindesk. Thiel did not immediately respond to request for comment.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 2 cents to $60.35 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 5 cents to $60.37 a barrel in New York on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 5 cents to $66.52 per barrel. It lost 30 cents to $66.57 per barrel in London. A rally late in the year sent crude oil to its highest price since June 2015.
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