Asia Markets

Asia markets climb following US rally as trade concerns linger

Key Points
  • Asian stocks gained on Wednesday, tracking the firm lead from Wall Street.
  • Trade-related developments remained in focus.
  • Investors digested news that China's central bank had on Tuesday cut the reserve requirement ratio for some banks.
  • The dollar firmed against the yen amid improved sentiment.

Markets in Asia closed higher on Wednesday, as investor confidence firmed on the back of Wall Street's advance following strong earnings. The gains also came amid lingering concerns over trade-related developments.

In Japan, the rose by 1.42 percent, or 310.61 points, to close at 22,158.20 and the broader Topix added 1.14 percent. Gains were broad-based amid the softer yen, with retailers, oil and technology among the rising sectors.

Across the Korean Strait, the benchmark Kospi advanced 1.07 percent to end at 2,479.98, driven by gains seen in manufacturing stocks and financials, among others. The technology space was mixed, although index heavyweight Samsung Electronics soared 2.76 percent.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up by 0.34 percent to finish at 5,861.40 as a slight decline in the heavily weighted financials subindex was offset by gains seen in materials, energy and consumer names.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong's closed higher by 0.74 percent at 30,284.25, off an intraday high of 30,487.17 seen in the morning.

Mainland markets finished the day in positive territory, with the erasing losses seen earlier to close up 0.8 percent at 3,091.31. The Shenzhen composite rose 1.08 percent to 1,803.84.

Gains were driven by the move higher in bank stocks after China's central bank said Tuesday it was cutting the reserve requirement ratio by 100 basis points for most banks. "China's reserve requirement ratio cut is supportive of risk sentiment as banks' profit is expected to improve with lower funding costs," OCBC Bank analysts said in a note.

Despite the broader climb, Chinese automakers took a beating after Beijing announced plans to ease restrictions in its car market.

Recent trade tensions also simmered as investors digested China's Tuesday announcement that it would impose deposits on U.S. sorghum imports. The announcements made by China reflected "a bit of give and take" on the trade front, ANZ analysts said.

The improvement in sentiment in Asia came on the back of the move higher on Wall Street on Tuesday, with U.S. stocks extending the previous day's gains as investors cheered the release of strong earnings.

S&P 500 earnings are expected to increase 18.6 percent in the quarter compared to one year ago, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Markets in the region had drifted lower on Tuesday as investors digested the release of China growth data for the first quarter, which came in at 6.8 percent — slightly above estimates.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, extended gains to trade at 89.630 after previously tumbling to a three-week low earlier in the week.

Against the yen, the dollar firmed to trade at 107.27 at 3:36 p.m. HK/SIN after slipping in the last session.

Oil prices extended slight gains seen in the last session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate rose 0.78 percent to trade at $67.04 per barrel and Brent crude futures gained 0.74 percent to trade at $72.11.

In corporate news, miner Rio Tinto announced Pilbara iron ore shipments rose to 80.3 million tons in the first quarter, a 5 percent increase from one year ago. Pilbara shipments this year are expected to remain between 330 and 340 million tons, the company said. Rio Tinto shares closed up 1.11 percent.