Published: Sun, September 04, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Asian stocks mostly higher on hopes for higher US rates

Asian stocks mostly higher on hopes for higher US rates

Trading was subdued ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend in the U.S. Very few companies are reporting earnings this week and there is scant news on the economy, apart from the Labor Department's monthly job survey coming up on Friday.

Europe's main stock markets gained 0.4 to 0.7 percent to help MSCI's All World index end six days of losses, its longest since the start of January. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.2 percent at 22,976.

"It's finely balanced and remarkably stable. and yet dollar/yen moved higher again, setting the scene for the Japanese equities bounce overnight", Societe Generale FX strategists said on Wednesday, adding that the dollar would have to break above 105 for this move to look like much more than "noise".

Exporters including Toyota and factory robot maker Fanuc were among the gainers as the dollar climbed against the yen after investors welcomed a sharp monthly rise in USA consumer confidence for August.

The JPX-Nikkei Index 400 advanced 1.3 percent to 11,967.56.

Dogged by rate hike uncertainty, the dollar dropped to as low as 99.550 yen in mid-August and came within sight of 99.000 yen - a 2-1/2-year low struck in June against the safe-haven Japanese currency after the Brexit vote.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial advanced 4.2 percent on a Nikkei report that Google will partner with the country's largest bank to launch the US tech giant's digital wallet platform in Japan. Data on Japan released Tuesday showed an improvement in unemployment, but worries about growth momentum remain. The underlying measure slipped 0.2 percent on Wednesday. Atlas Iron soared 10 percent after narrowing its annual loss. The euro was slightly lower at $1.1164 from $1.1177.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 17 cents at $49.43 a barrel, while US crude CLc1 added 21 cents to $47.19.

The broader Topix gained 1.3 percent to a near six-week closing high of 1,329.54, with 2.089 billion shares changing hands, the highest since August 8.

Building materials supplier Adelaide Brighton tumbled 4.2 percent and live cattle exporter Wellard slumped 13.6 percent on disappointing financial results.

LONDON - Gold slid to a two-month low on Wednesday after forecast-beating USA jobs data stoked speculation that the Federal Reserve would move ahead with plans to raise interest rates, propelling the dollar index to its highest in three weeks.

There was a 2.2 percent in the Nikkei 225 as well. "It's late August and most risk managers aren't going to allow traders to comes in with large positions".

Orix gained 28.50 yen, or 1.9 percent, to 1,516.00 yen on reports Thursday that the general leasing firm will invest in Vietnam's major hydroelectric power generation firm.

Retirement village operators and developers posted broad-based gains, with Metlifecare, Summerset Group Holdings and Ryman Healthcare climbing 1-2 percent. While rate increases can hurt stock markets overall, they tend to support bank shares. India's Sensex was up 0.4 percent, extending gains for the third straight session. Shenzhen Composite, the tech focused index increased by 0.3 percent.

Commodity companies were among the leaders as oil took back some of the 8 percent it had lost this week, a decline that accelerated on Wednesday after data showed US crude and distillate stockpiles increased more than expected.

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