SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets were higher on Wednesday following Dow industrial's record-high finish, as upbeat corporate earnings reports and China factory data boosted investor confidence. Apple's surprise earnings report pushed up share prices of its Asian suppliers.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent to 20,108.10 and South Korea's Kospi gained 0.3 percent to 2,430.30. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index advanced 0.5 percent to 27,667.39 while Shanghai Composite index added 0.1 percent to 3,294.41. Australia's ASX/S&P 200 bucked the region's trend, falling 0.3 percent to 5,752.60 as commodity prices dropped. Stocks in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.
ECONOMIC DATA: Analysts said robust Chinese factory output report earlier this week continued to embolden investors as they waited for more data releases later this week. On Tuesday, Caixin/Markit factory purchasing managers' index, a private Chinese manufacturing survey, showed activity expanded last month to its highest level in four months. Overnight in the U.S., the Institute for Supply Management reports showed that U.S. factories expanded again last month albeit at a slower pace than in June. Later Wednesday, U.S. payroll processor ADP will give its employment updates for July. But the biggest highlight will be the U.S. jobs report due Friday.
ANALYST'S COMMENT: "Despite the blemish from softer crude prices, markets in the Asian region are poised for further up move in the morning," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore. "Early movers in the region, with the exception of the Australian market, continued to bask in the glow of the positive Caixin PMI data from Tuesday and could continue this trend midweek."
iPHONE IMPACT: Apple reported Tuesday that its quarterly earnings rose 12 percent to $8.7 billion, exceeding expectations, as demand for iPhones rose and gave an upbeat revenue forecast for the current quarter. It also eased concerns about production problems for the next-generation iPhone. Shares of Apple's suppliers in Asia rose. Samsung Electronics Co. rose 0.6 percent and LG Display Co. jumped 2.1 percent. Taiwan-based contract manufacturer Foxconn Technology Co., which assembles Apple's iPhones, climbed 2.2 percent.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished higher on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,476.35. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.3 percent to 21,963.92, closing at a record high for the fifth day in a row. Nasdaq composite added 0.2 percent to 6,362.94. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gained 0.2 percent to 1,428.33
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OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 48 cents to $48.68 per barrel in electronic trading on New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed $1.01, or 2 percent, to close at $49.16 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 50 cents to $51.28 per barrel in London. It dropped 94 cents, or 1.8 percent, to finish at $51.78 a barrel on Tuesday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 110.52 yen from 110.36 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1808 from $1.1802.