Asian markets up after positive Wall St lead

Asian markets up after positive Wall St lead

HONG KONG - Asian markets rose on bargain-buying Wednesday and following a rally on Wall Street, with Tokyo enjoying a healthy bump as the dollar tries to break through the 100 yen barrier.

Investors took their lead from New York, which jumped on the back of upbeat earnings results from some corporate giants, while they seemed to brush off more weak manufacturing figures from China and Europe.

Tokyo rose 2.32 per cent, or 313.81 points, to 13,843.46, while Seoul was up 0.87 per cent, or 16.68 points, at 1,935.31 and Sydney was 1.72 per cent higher, adding 86.2 points to 5,102.4.

In the afternoon Shanghai gained 1.06 per cent and Hong Kong added 1.51 per cent.

With few other catalysts Wednesday's rises were helped by bargain hunting after a broad sell-off in the previous session.

The Nikkei in Tokyo climbed as the yen resumed its downward trend against the dollar in New York, with dealers expecting the US unit to soon break the 100 yen (S$1.25) mark for the first time since April 2009.

The dollar bought 99.50 yen in early Tokyo trade, from 99.48 yen in late New York, while it is well up from 98.81 yen in Asia on Tuesday afternoon.

The euro fetched US$1.2999 (S$1.61) and 129.30 yen on Wednesday, compared with $1.2997 and 129.30 yen in New York late Tuesday.

Eyes will turn to Tokyo for the next peg, with the Bank of Japan due to wrap up another policy meeting, the first since it unveiled a huge stimulus package to boost the economy and bring an end to deflation.

In the United States the Dow ended 1.05 per cent higher thanks to strong earnings from DuPont, United Technologies and Travelers among others.

However, it suffered a mid-session plummet after someone used the Associated Press news agency's Twitter account to tweet that there had been two explosions at the White House and President Barack Obama had been hurt.

The AP almost immediately announced it had been hacked and the message was false.

The S&P 500 added 1.04 per cent and the Nasdaq jumped 1.11 per cent.

Australian shares on Wednesday enjoyed a boost after inflation came in at a below-forecast 0.4 per cent in the January-March quarter, stoking hopes the Reserve Bank of Australia will cut interest rates.

However, the Australian dollar weakened on the talk of a rate cut, buying US$1.0250 after the inflation figures were released, compared with US$1.275 before.

Oil prices were higher in Asia, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, adding 45 cents to US$89.63 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for June delivery gaining 25 US cents to US$100.56.

An ounce of gold fetched US$1,427.25 at 0600 GMT, compared with US$1,414.10 late Tuesday.

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