Asian shares rise; Nikkei closes above 16,000
Stocks in Japan and China rose in holiday-thinned trading on Wednesday following a positive lead from Wall Street, while most other regional markets were shut.
Wednesday's gains followed a rise in U.S. stocks on Tuesday, with both the Dow the S&P 500 closing at fresh record highs on the back of positive U.S. economic data. Tuesday's close marked the Dow's 49th record closing high of the year.
Data released in the U.S. on Tuesday showed that orders for durable goods rose 3.5 percent in November, well above expectations for a 2 percent rise and up from a 0.7 percent decline in October.
Japan shares higher
In Tokyo, the Nikkei ended 0.8 percent higher at 16,009.99 on Wednesday, closing above the 16,000 level for the first time since December 2007. Wednesday's close marks the index's third consecutive six-year closing high.
Local output figures for November failed to inspire Japanese automakers. Honda Motor gained 0.1 percent and Nissan Motor added 0.4 percent after reporting a 34.5 percent on-year rise and 14.9 on-year percent decline in Japan auto output, respectively.
Comments from Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Wednesday had little effect on the Japanese market. The central bank governor said that Japan's consumer inflation is likely to exceed 1 percent in the first half of 2014 and will help heighten inflation expectations.
Japan is due to report consumer price index data for November on Friday, December 27th. According to a Reuters poll of 28 economists, inflation is seen reaching a new five-year high of 1.1 percent on year in November. Inflation stood at a five-year high of 0.9 percent in October.
China shares rise
Easing liquidity concerns saw Chinese stocks rise on Wednesday. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.6 percent as short-term interest rates eased further after the Chinese central bank took steps to resolve the country's cash crunch on Tuesday.
The People's Bank of China injected $4.8 billion into China's financial system through open market operations on Tuesday morning after the seven-day repo rate spiked as high as 9.8 percent on Monday, the highest level in six months.
On Wednesday, the seven-day repo rate was around 5.2 percent at midday, down from 5.71 percent at Wednesday's open and 6.35 percent at Tuesday's close.
However, lingering concerns that the cash crunch will continue to be problem in the new year limited gains on Wednesday.