Asia markets mostly up on commodity stocks
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Most Asia markets ended higher Wednesday as sharp overnight gains for gold and crude-oil prices spurred resource stocks, although Hong Kong and Chinese shares fell on profit-taking after recent advances and ahead of key global economic events.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index (XJO) , which declined on Tuesday to defy a broad regional rally, jumped 1.1%, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average (100000018) and South Korea's Kospi (SEU) added 0.4% each. Taiwan's Taiex inched up 0.1%.
The day's performance came after U.S. stocks rose Tuesday in a shortened trading session ahead of the July 4 holiday, helped by a surprise lift in factory orders. Analysts noted caution ahead of Thursday's interest rate decisions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England, followed by the key U.S. nonfarm payrolls data on Friday.
"The risk rally ... seems to be driven at the corporate level, while the macro trend is still waiting for confirmations from the central banks, notably the ECB and BOE on Thursday, and the U.S. non-farm payrolls on Friday," said Woon Khien Chia, head of emerging markets research at Royal Bank of Scotland.
Several energy sector shares jumped as a flare-up of geopolitical tensions about Iran boosted crude-oil prices in New York trade. Read more on the oil session.
Resource-linked shares also drove gains across Asia after strong buying interest in commodities overnight.
In Hong Kong,
Gold producers were well-supported as expectations of fresh stimulus measures by global central banks boosted gold futures on Tuesday. Read more on gold's rise.
The European Central Bank is expected to reduce interest rates when it meets Thursday, while soft U.S. manufacturing activity earlier this week stirred speculation that the Federal Reserve would consider launching fresh easing measures.
"A near-$75 pop in the price of gold over the last three days suggests traders are positioning themselves for imminent Federal Reserve action; however, many still remain skeptical," IG Markets strategist Cameron Peacock said.
Losses for some property and automobile shares dragged mainland Chinese bourses, after the Shanghai Composite rose in each of the previous three trading days. The fall came amid fresh signs of weakness in the domestic economy, as China's services industry activity cooled to levels bordering on stagnation.
Gemdale Corp. (600383) dropped 2.8% and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Co. (600418) declined 1.2% in Shanghai; in Shenzhen, Oceanwide Real Estate Group Co. (000046) tumbled 3.1% and FAW Car Co. (000800) shed 0.7%.