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South Korea and Japan lead rally in Asian shares; Caixin PMI meets expectations

  • Asian markets closed higher, with the Nikkei 225 and Kospi leading gains in the region
  • Energy stocks in the region rose as oil prices extended overnight gains
  • China Caixin manufacturing PMI met expectations
  • Sony shares touched a nine-year high in the session
  • Casino stocks traded in Hong Kong got a boost in afternoon trade

Stocks in Asia closed higher on Wednesday, with markets in Japan and South Korea leading gains in the region. Investors also digested the extended gains in oil prices and the release of China's Caixin manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, which met expectations.

Stateside, markets had closed slightly higher on Tuesday as investors focused on a mix of central bank meetings and tax cut details.

Markets on the move 

Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.86 percent, or 408.47 points, to close at 22,420.08, with energy stocks posting gains as oil prices edged up. Automakers also rose while tech stocks were mixed: Mitsubishi Motor closed up 1 percent and Inpex rose 2.37 percent. Sony stock surged 11.44 percent after announcing expectation-topping results on Tuesday.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi rose 1.31 percent to end at 2,556.47 on strength in the tech sector. Samsung Electronics jumped 3.89 percent and SK Hynix gained 3.77 percent by the end of the session.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 closed up 0.49 percent at 5,937.766, with energy stocks leading gains on the broader index: Santos rose 1.78 percent and Beach Energy advanced 7.69 percent.

Greater China markets trended higher, with the Hang Seng Index rising 0.79 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. The index was given a boost in the afternoon trading session when casino stocks rose after Macau data showed a 22.1 percent rise in gross gaming revenues for October compared to one year ago. Wynn Macau rose 4 percent and Melco International Development soared 5.39 percent at 2:59 p.m. HK/SIN. Telcos and tech stocks also notched gains ahead of the market close.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.08 percent to end at 3,396.0737 and the Shenzhen Composite finished just 0.058 percent above the flat line at 2,003.4435.

China's Caixin manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index for October met expectations, coming in at 51.0. The official PMI released on Tuesday had fallen just short of expectations.

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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Markets in the Philippines are closed for Wednesday.

Stocks in the U.S. closed slightly higher on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 both notching their seventh consecutive monthly gains as October drew to a close.

The lead up

The Federal Reserve will deliver its interest rates decision at the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday U.S. time. Market watchers say the meeting will yield few surprises and most expect no changes in the central bank's policy this week.

"To be sure, with no 'presser' or dot plot release for the November Federal Open Market Committee [meeting], shifts in Fed bets may be somewhat restrained absent express dovish caveats in the statement," Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank, said in a morning note.

Investors also awaited tax reform details expected later this week and President Donald Trump's upcoming announcement regarding the next chair of the Fed.

The dollar firmed ahead of the conclusion of the Fed's meeting, with the dollar index trading at 94.599 at 2:50 p.m. HK/SIN.

Against the yen, the U.S. currency rose to trade at 113.83, compared to Tuesday's close of 113.67 yen. Softness in the Japanese currency came after the Japanese central bank kept its monetary policy steady earlier this week.

Meanwhile, U.S. consumer confidence in October rose to its highest levels in nearly 17 years as consumers grew more upbeat after several hurricanes had influenced sentiment in September, a Conference Board survey showed on Monday.

Also in focus will be the Bank of England's policy meeting on Thursday. Markets are awaiting what could be the central bank's first interest rate hike in 10 years.

In the lead up to the meeting, the British pound was steady at $1.3290 at 2:50 p.m. HK/SIN.

Corporate news 

Macau-based casino operator SJM Holdings announced a 16.5 percent decline in third-quarter profit compared to a year ago. Net profit for the quarter stood at 428 million Hong Kong dollars ($54.9 million). SJM shares performed worse than other Hong Kong casino stocks, trading lower by 0.15 percent by 2:52 p.m. HK/SIN.

Meanwhile, Alibaba Group Holding said it would be taking its annual Singles' Day online shopping event international this year, South China Morning Post reported. The tech giant said it was looking for growth in international sales to exceed local sales, the newspaper (owned by the Alibaba Group) added. Singles' Day takes place on November 11, but has since evolved into a multi-week-long retail event.

Elsewhere, Sony on Tuesday revised upwards its full-year profit for the fiscal year ending Mar. 31, 2018. The Japanese conglomerate said it expects full-year operating income to come in at 630 billion yen ($5.5 billion), substantially above a forecast of 585.8 billion yen from Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate.

Watching the dollar

The New Zealand dollar rose to its highest levels in about a week after the release of data showing the unemployment rate had fallen. The Kiwi dollar traded at $0.6908 at 2:50 p.m. HK/SIN.

The commodities trade 

Bullish sentiment persisted in the oil markets. Brent crude futures climbed 0.51 percent to trade at $61.25 a barrel and U.S. crude advanced 0.59 to trade at $54.70.

"Given the pace of the move and the general bullish tone in the market, both contracts could be vulnerable to a short term downward correction," Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, cautioned in an early Wednesday note. He added that both contracts' daily relative strength indexes had moved into "strongly overbought territory."