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Asia bourses buoyed as Wall Street nears milestone

Wednesday 02:10 GMT

Overview

Stocks across Asia were on the rise, with sentiment buoyed by continued gains for Wall Street as the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes in on 20,000 points for the first time.

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The Dow Jones rose 0.5 per cent overnight in New York to close a mere 25.4 points shy of the 20,000-point milestone, while the S&P 500 added 0.4 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.5 per cent.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was also taking aim at the same barrier, up 0.3 per cent at 19,550.2. It has not closed above 20,000 since December 2015.

So far this year the Dow Jones has gained 14.6 per cent, beating the 11.1 per cent rise for the broader S&P 500. The Nikkei 225 is up 2.6 per cent.

Equities

The Topix was up 0.1 per cent, with Japanese stocks still underpinned by recent weakness in the yen. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 0.6 per cent higher, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng added 0.4 per cent.

China’s Shanghai Composite was up 0.5 per cent and the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite was 0.7 per cent higher.

Forex

The Japanese yen was 0.1 per cent weaker at ¥‎117.78 per dollar, edging lower after dropping 0.7 per cent on Tuesday as the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy on hold. The US currency was taking a breather in Asian trade, with the US dollar index down 0.1 per cent at 103.21.

The New Zealand dollar was Asia’s best performer on Wednesday, up 0.4 per cent on the back of data showing the country’s trade deficit narrowed in November thanks to higher prices for dairy products — a key export — and a slide in imports.

Commodities

Oil prices continued to nudge higher following the recent agreement by major producers to cut output. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up 0.5 per cent at $55.64 a barrel while West Texas Intermediate gained 0.6 per cent to $53.64.

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