Asian markets were mostly higher Tuesday despite some weakness on Wall Street, with shares of Japanese exporters spurred by recent weakness in the yen.
Investors continued to move money stashed in government bonds to equities as their willingness to take risks recovered with low interest rates around the world and governments essentially writing blank cheques for plans to revive sagging economies.
The U.S. dollar slipped against the yen , after hitting a near one-month high the previous day on expectations that a planned U.S. stimulus package would help
revive the faltering economy. The yen, which has served as a refuge for investors from wild financial market volatility, strengthened broadly. Though the yen was supported, other popular havens like Japanese government bonds and U.S. Treasuries were under pressure as the attraction of cheap stocks sucked in investors. Oil traded above $48 a barrel after settling more than 5 percent higher the previous day as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas helped lift prices.
Japan's Nikkei 225 Average closed up 0.4 percent to hit a two-month closing high, buoyed by exporters such as Canon on a weaker yen and hopes for
economic stimulus steps by the U.S. administration taking office later this month. Toyota Motor rose 1.3 percent, despite a plunge in U.S. auto sales for December, after it said it would tackle the sharp deterioration in global demand with plans tohaltproduction at all of its domestic plants for a total of 11 daysin February and March.
Seoul shares climbed 2 percent, heading for a fourth consecutive gaining session despite falls on Wall Street, with advances led by tech issues such as Hynix Semiconductor on firm gains in memory chip prices. DRAM spot prices rose up to 5 percent, and flash spot prices also firmed, according to DRAMeXchange. Meanwhile Ssangyong Motor rallied after SAIC Motor, its majority shareholder, provided 25.9 billion won ($19.89 million) to the cash-strapped South Korean carmaker.
Australian shares rose 1.5 percent to a near two-month closing high, as stocks such as banks with attractive dividend yields lured investors, but Leighton Holdings fell on profit downgrade. Small-cap mining stocks, which had tumbled last year, got a boost from recent rise in commodity prices, though analysts said light trading exacerbated price moves while yield was the main attraction for investors looking for safety in volatile markets.
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Hong Kong shares fell 0.3 percent, pulling back from a three-day, 9 percent rally, with Chinese telecom stocks retreating as investors booked profits on recent gains. China Mobile fell 2.4 percent while smaller rival China Unicom dropped 5.3 percent. Both stocks had rallied sharply in the last two sessions on hopes that Chinese telecom companies will be able to offer third generation network services soon, after Beijing approved the long-awaited issuance of 3G licenses last week.
Singapore's Straits Times Index fell into the red, down about half a percent. Shares retreated as investors digested the previous session's 5 percent gain. Golden-Agri Resources was the most actively trade stock on the STI.
China's Shanghai Composite Index climbed 3 percent as coal shares surged, banks were supported by a solid earnings estimate from Pudong Development Bank, and leading property developer Vanke gained on December sales data. Coal producers outperformed for a second day on recent strength in domestic coal prices and the surge in global oil prices fueled by tensions in the Middle East. Shenhua Energy jumped after climbing 3.99 percent on Monday.