HONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Wednesday, taking a lead from Wall Street after another set of data indicating the US economy is getting back on track.
The upbeat US trade statistics also helped the dollar resume its upward trend against the yen, while investors await the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting to see if another cut in its stimulus could be on the cards.
Tokyo rose 1.04 percent by the break on the back of a weakening yen, Hong Kong added 0.90 percent, Shanghai gained 0.61 percent, Seoul advanced 0.11 percent and Sydney was flat.
After a tentative start to 2014 — caused by profit-taking after healthy gains last year — US shares enjoyed a rally on Tuesday after the Commerce Department said the country’s trade deficit shrank in November as exports hit a record high for a second straight month.
The deficit narrowed 12.9 percent from October, the second month in a row of contraction, to $34.3 billion, the smallest figure since September 2009. It was also much better than forecasts of $40.4 billion.
The upbeat numbers added to growing optimism about the world’s number one economy and could tilt the Fed to consider further reducing its stimulus programme.
The central bank said at its last meeting that from January it would cut its bond-buying by $10 billion a month to $75 billion. Minutes for that gathering are due for release later Wednesday and could give clues about the bank’s intentions for the future as the economy gathers pace.
The data “further supports the view that the outlook for the US economy is improving”, St George Bank economist Janu Chan told Dow Jones Newswires.
On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.64 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.61 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.96 percent.
The dollar extended its gains on Wednesday after enjoying a pick-up in New York following the trade figures.
The greenback bought 104.84 yen in early Tokyo exchanges, compared with 104.69 yen in New York late Tuesday, although it is still well below the five-year high of 105.41 yen touched at the start of last week.
The euro was at $1.3630 and 142.90 yen, from $1.3614 and 142.53 yen.
Oil prices were higher. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up 29 cents at $93.96 in early Asian trade while Brent North Sea crude for February sat at $107.42.Gold fetched $1,228.76 at 0230 GMT compared with $1,239.00 late Tuesday.