Feb 15, 2018 07:47 AM IST | Source: CNBC

Asian stocks advance following sharp US gains

The Nikkei 225 rose 1.14 percent, or 242.61 points, in early trade.


Asian stocks advanced early on Thursday, taking cues from the rally on Wall Street following the release of stronger-than-expected US inflation data overnight.

The Nikkei 225 rose 1.14 percent, or 242.61 points, in early trade.

The benchmark had come under pressure in the last session, closing lower by 90.51 points, after the dollar fell to 15-month lows against the yen during Asian trading hours on Wednesday.

On the data front, Japan's December core machinery orders fell 11.9 percent, Reuters said — a larger decline than the 2.3 percent median fall projected.

Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.81 percent, with the energy, materials and gold sectors among the best-performing sectors in the morning. Major miners were higher early on: Rio Tinto rose 2.59 percent and BHP gained 3 percent.

Australian insurer Suncorp fell 3.08 percent after it reported that half-year net profit fell 15.8 percent to 452 million Australian dollars (USD 358 million), missing a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S forecast of AUSD 486 million. It cited higher-than-expected natural hazard claims as a factor affecting its earnings.

Other corporates due to release earnings on Thursday include Japan's Sapporo Holdings and Asahi Group Holdings.

Markets in China, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam are closed on Thursday for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Wednesday marked the fourth day of gains for stock indexes in the US, with the three major indexes posting gains of more than 1 percent.

Stocks stateside had initially begun the session in negative territory following the release of highly anticipated U.S. inflation data, although they later reversed those losses. The consumer price index rose 0.5 percent last month, topping the 0.3 percent forecast in a Reuters poll.

Yields on US government debt rose following the release of inflation data. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note jumped to 2.92 percent on Wednesday, its highest levels in four years.

Other economic data released overnight included US retail sales for the month of January, which missed expectations. Retail sales decreased 0.3 percent last month, compared to the 0.2 percent increase projected in a Reuters poll.

In currencies, the dollar index, which tracks the US currency against a basket of rivals, fell to trade at 89.121 by the end of Wednesday. The overnight decline in the greenback came despite expectations that price pressures would influence the Federal Reserve's interest rate hike path.

Against the yen, the dollar traded at 106.70 after slipping as low as 106.70 overnight. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was steady at USD 0.7926, above levels around the USD 0.78 handle seen at the beginning of the week.

On the commodities front, oil prices were slightly higher after rallying on Wednesday, on the weaker greenback and a less-than-expected rise in US crude inventories.

US crude futures rose 0.35 percent to trade at $60.81 per barrel after settling more than 2 percent higher overnight. Brent crude futures, which had yet to trade, rose 2.6 percent to settle at USD 64.36 in the last session.

What's on tap

Here's the economic calendar for Thursday (all times in HK/SIN):

12:30 p.m.: Japan industrial production

Indonesia's central bank is expected to make its interest rates decision later in the day.
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