Asian Shares End Mostly Higher Ahead Of Fed Minutes

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(RTTNews.com) - Asian stocks recovered from a weak start to close mostly higher on Wednesday despite weak overnight cues from Wall Street.

Underlying sentiment remained cautious somewhat after yields on U.S. treasury debt hit a four-year high on Tuesday on expectations of a faster pace of interest rate increases from the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve releases minutes of its Jan. 30-31 meeting later today as investors look for further insight on inflation and interest rates.

The dollar hit a one-week high versus a basket of major currencies, while oil prices fell ahead of the release of U.S. inventory figures expected to show a rise in crude oil stockpiles in the week to Feb. 16.

Mainland Chinese markets remained closed for Lunar New Year holiday, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 1.8 percent at 31,439 in late trade.

Japanese shares ended a choppy session slightly higher as a weaker yen helped offset flash data from IHS Markit showing the country's manufacturing activity grew at a slightly slower pace in February.

The Nikkei average rose 45.71 points or 0.21 percent to 21,970.81 while the broader Topix index finished marginally lower at 1,761.61.

Exporters ended mostly higher, with Canon, Sony and Honda Motor rising 1-2 percent. Lender Mitsubishi UFJ Financial lost 2 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial shed 1.2 percent and Mizuho Financial declined 1.1 percent.

Australian shares erased initial losses to end marginally higher. BHP Billiton fell 4.8 percent after reporting its half-year results while Rio Tinto dropped 1.6 percent to extend losses for the third consecutive session. Smaller rival Fortescue Metals Group slumped 4.7 percent.

Logistics software firm WiseTech Global lost 23.2 percent as a guidance upgrade failed to materialize. Oil & gas producer Santos tumbled 3.1 percent after reporting a hefty full-year loss. Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy rose over 1 percent after crude oil prices advanced overnight.

Engineering firm WorleyParsons soared 7 percent as it restarted dividends for the first time since 2015. Downer EDI added 1.5 percent as it reported a first-half loss on goodwill impairment as well as writedowns.

Wesfarmers rallied 3 percent despite the retail conglomerate reporting a steep fall in first-half profit due to impairments against its UK hardware business and Target department stores.

Seoul stocks closed higher on institutional buying in large-cap shares. The benchmark Kospi reversed earlier losses to finish up 14.53 points or 0.60 percent at 2,429.65. Lotte Confectionary shares gained 1.2 percent after the head of Lotte Group offered to resign from the holding company in view of his arrest for bribery earlier this month.

New Zealand shares closed sharply higher as milk marketing firm A2 Milk surged as much as 26.5 percent to a record high after securing an alliance with Fonterra. The benchmark S&P NZX-50 index climbed 102 points or 1.26 percent to finish at 8,200.27.

India's Sensex and Malaysia's KLSE Composite were up around 0.1 percent while Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was declining 0.3 percent. Singapore's Straits Times index was rising 1.1 percent.

The Taiwan Weighted rallied 2.8 percent as traders returned to their desks following the Lunar New Year holidays.

U.S. stocks fell overnight as investors watched a rising dollar, disappointing results from Walmart and climbing bond yields.

The Dow dropped 1 percent and the S&P 500 shed 0.6 percent to close lower for the first the time in six sessions, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended marginally lower for the day.

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This article appears in: Politics , World Markets , US Markets , Stocks

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