Asia Markets

Asian shares mostly up on US record gains; Australia at 6-year peak


Asian equity markets were mostly higher on Wednesday after the S&P 500 index closed above the 2,000 mark for the first time ever.

Wall Street's record gains overnight were sparked by better-than-expected reports that cast a favorable light on the economy. Consumer confidence hit its highest level since 2007 in August while durable goods orders posted their biggest gain on record in July.

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Geopolitical events remained in focus following news that Israel and militant groups in Gaza agreed to halt all fighting in the war-torn region. However, there was no breakthrough in talks between leaders of Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday, but both sides agreed that there was an urgent need to de-escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Nikkei up 0.1%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei index bounced between gains and losses in the afternoon session, briefly hitting a new one-week low of 15,465 points. A stronger currency capped larger gains as the yen strengthened to 104 per dollar, retreating further from a seven-month low of 104.49.

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Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) slipped 0.3 percent after a Japanese court ordered the firm to pay $472,000 dollars after being held responsible for a woman's suicide following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

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Shanghai inches up 0.1%

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite recovered from a more than two-week closing low in the previous session thanks to a rally in the aviation sector on reports that the country's first large commercial passenger jet will be entering the final assembly stage.

XiAn Aero-Engine rallied 10 percent while China Avic Electronics rose over 2 percent.

Agricultural Bank of China shed 0.4 percent after it reported slowing profit growth and rising bad loans for the second quarter late on Tuesday.

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ASX up 0.2%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index closed at a fresh six-year high in quiet trade. However, gains were limited due to several stocks trading ex-dividend.

Building firm Boral rallied over 4 percent after swinging to a net profit this fiscal year from a loss a year ago and announcing a dividend of 8 Australian cents.

Travel agency Flight Centre fell nearly 1 percent after its fiscal year net profit fell 16 percent.

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Kospi adds 0.3%

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index rose for the third straight day, finishing at new one-week highs.

Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics gained 0.6 percent on reports that it has obtained government accreditation for a virtual reality headset.

Emerging markets gain

Thailand's benchmark SET Index jumped 0.3 percent despite weak July trade data. Exports unexpectedly fell 0.8 percent on year, missing estimates for a 4 percent rise.

India's Nifty index tacked on 0.4 percent, in sight of Monday's record high of 7,968 points.