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Asia markets mostly higher; SoftBank jumps 6%

Asian shares were higher, with Australia shrugging off weak GDP and Japan's benchmark index up on a Trump announcement that saw SoftBank shares gain smartly.

Australia's benchmark index closed up 0.91 percent or 49.41 points at 5,478.1. The ASX 200 saw broad strength across all sub-indexes, except for energy, which was down 0.71 percent on lower oil prices.

Third-quarter gross domestic product fell 0.5 percent on-quarter, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said, and rose 1.8 percent on-year, well below media forecasts cited by Reuters of a 0.3 percent on-quarter rise and a 2.5 percent on-year increase.

Second-quarter GDP was revised up to 0.6 percent, from an initial reading of 0.5 percent. The third quarter decline was the biggest since 2008 and may feed Reserve Bank of Australia views on monetary policy.

The Australian dollar fell 0.43 percent against the greenback, fetching $0.7424 as of 12:55 pm HK/SIN.

The Nikkei 225 was 0.74 percent higher or 136.15 points at 18,496.69. SoftBank, the fourth most heavily-weighted component on the Nikkei, jumped as high as 6.2 percent at 7,387 yen ($63.99), after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump announced that the Japanese telco would invest $50 billion in the U.S. and aim to create 50,000 jobs in the next four years.


The paperwork from Trump's meeting with Softbank also featured the logo of Foxconn, known as Hon Hai, a supplier of Apple's iPhones. However it remains unclear what role Foxconn would play in the deal. The Taiwan-listed Foxconn stock was up 1.09 percent at 83.60 new Taiwan dollars per share.

In other news, Japan's lower house passed a bill to legalize casinos on Tuesday which could benefit global casino operators such as Genting Singapore, which was up as high as 3.06 percent at 1.01 Singapore dollar per share.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi closed up 0.1 percent or 2.03 points at 1,991.89, as the Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho said that consumer sentiment is softening due to political uncertainties about the country's political leadership and financial market volatility, Reuters reported.

Samsung Electronics surged 1.37 percent to 1,773,000 Korean won after Tuesday's news that theU.S. Supreme Court ruled for Samsung in a dispute over damages related to Apple's iPhone design. The ruling saved Samsung $399 million, previously awarded to Apple in a lower court ruling for infringing on Apple's iPhone designs.

The Shanghai composite closed up 0.7 percent or 22.27 points at 3,221.92 as the Shenzhen composite was up 0.912 percent or 18.88 points at 2,090.32. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 0.44 percent by mid-afternoon.

On the economic data watch, the Reserve Bank of India later Wednesday will detail its latest rate stance and monetary policy views. India's benchmark rate of 6.25 percent may fall to 6.00 percent, according to a Reuters survey.

Stateside, the Dow Jones industrial average closed at a record high, up 0.18 percent at 19,251.78, as the S&P 500 closed up 0.34 percent at 2,212.23. The Nasdaq composite finished up 0.45 percent at 5,333.

In currency markets, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 100.57 compared to levels as high as 101.5 last week. The yen held steady at the 114 mark, with the dollar/yen pair track at 114.28 as of 3:05 pm HK/SIN.

Oil prices slipped on Wednesday during Asian trade, with the U.S. crude futures down 0.57 percent at $50.66 a barrel while Brent futures were down 0.41 percent at $53.70.

Crude prices had fallen on Tuesday, after data showed that the Organization of Petreoleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia had record high production in November.

"With both Russia and OPEC producing at record amounts, the market is scratching its head about how both blocs will manage to comply with the Vienna production cut targets," said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, in a note on Wednesday.

Gold prices, a safe haven asset, were also under pressure, trading at $1,168.10 an ounce, compared to $1172.42 last week.

"The ever-rising expectations of the Federal Reserve raising U.S. rates in December have left gold extremely vulnerable to losses with the metal hovering around 10-month lows at $1170 as of writing.," said Lukman Otunuga, research analyst at FXTM, in a note late on Tuesday.

The probability of a December Federal Reserve rate hike currently stand at 92.7 percent, according to CME group's FedWatch Tool.

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