Asia Markets

Australia shares climb in a mixed Asian session following record gains in the US

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Australian stocks gained smartly Wednesday on expectations of higher commodity prices with other Asia Pacific markets posting smaller gains or slim declines as attention remained on prospects to sustain record gains in the U.S.

The benchmark ASX 200 advanced 71.02 points, or 1.31 percent, to 5,484.35, with most sectors finishing higher. The heavily-weighted financial sector rose 1.10 percent, while the energy and materials sectors tacked on 1.25 and 1.98 percent respectively.

Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at spreadbettor CMC Markets, said in a note that the "market appears to be in a capitulation phase for commodity bears."

"The consensus view is swinging towards commodity prices maintaining higher levels based on continued demand from China and improved U.S. demand," he added.

Mining names mostly rose, with major miners advancing more than 2 percent each. Shares of Rio Tinto closed up 2.52 percent, Fortescue was higher by 2.94 percent and BHP Billiton added 2.65 percent.

The Australian dollar jumped to a session high of $0.7444, climbing from levels near $0.7320 earlier in the week. At 4:19 p.m. HK/SIN, the Aussie traded at $0.7436.

Among other regional markets, in New Zealand, the NZX 50 closed up 35 points, or 0.51 percent, at 6,851.45, while in South Korea, the Kospi rose 4.48 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,987.95.

Hong Kong's finished flat at 22,676.69, while Chinese mainland shares finished lower. The composite fell 6.88 points, or 0.21 percent, to 3,241.46, while the Shenzhen composite slipped 8.37 points, or 0.39 percent, to 2,129.51.

Japanese markets were closed Wednesday for the Labor Thanksgiving public holiday.

The session in Asia followed record high finishes on Tuesday in the U.S., and analysts expect the positive momentum in stocks to last in the near term.

"The current state of play is the bulls have got control here and that U.S. equity and many other developed markets are going higher, at least in the short-term," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at spreadbettor IG, said in a note on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 index closed over 2,200 for the first time, finishing up 4.76 points, or 0.22 percent, at 2,202.94. The hit 19,000 for the first time ever, advancing 67.18 points, or 0.35 percent, to end at 19,023.85, while the gained 17.49 points, or 0.33 percent, to end at 5,386.35.

In the broader currency market, the dollar last traded at 101.02 against a basket of currencies at 4:22 p.m. HK/SIN, a tad below its last close at 101.04. The yen traded at 111.04 against the dollar, falling from levels below 110 in the previous week. The euro was at $1.0620 and the pound fetched $1.2404.

"Don't be mistaken by the mixed performance of the U.S. dollar today, because dollar bulls remain in control," noted Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management in a late Tuesday note.

In company news, Reuters reported, citing South Korea's Yonhap News, prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung Group over its alleged link with Choi Soon-sil, who is a longtime confidant of President Park Geun-hye and who has been indicted for criminal acts.

Prosecutors also raided the country's largest pension fund, the National Pension Service, with Yonhap reporting investigators were looking into NPS's decision to approve the $8 billion merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in 2015, said Reuters.

Samsung Electronics shares closed up 0.6 percent at 1,649,000 won, while Samsung SDI was higher by 0.4 percent. Samsung Electro-Mechanics was down 1.4 percent and Samsung C&T was off 2.9 percent. Samsung Engineering fell 1.3 percent.

Oil prices were flat in the late afternoon during Asian hours, following a flat finish on Tuesday and a more than 4 percent jump on Monday on renewed expectations for the world's largest oil producers to cut supply when they meet next week.

U.S. crude traded up 0.08 percent at $48.07 a barrel at 4:27 p.m. HK/SIN, following an overnight drop of 0.44 percent. Global benchmark Brent unchanged at $49.12, after gaining 0.45 percent during the U.S. session.

Jeffrey Halley, a senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note the market was unwilling to push oil prices toward $50 a barrel ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.

"Their reticence is understandable given that longs put on above that level have not ended well in recent times," he said, adding inventory numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) due later in the global day would be watched by traders.

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