ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Continue To Rise As China's Party Congress Starts

Nikkei up for 12th straight session; Chinese stocks edge up slightly

Equity markets in the Asia-Pacific region were slightly higher on Wednesday, building on Wall Street's bullish performance overnight, though gains were being capped as a key meeting of China's political elite kicked off.

Regional investors were trading cautiously as the latest Communist Party congress got under way, where China's President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a second five-year term. The twice-a-decade meetings typically trigger uncertainty about political and economic shifts in the country.

"Leads for Asia today are fairly lackluster," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets. "China is key today and for the remainder of this week."

The Shanghai and Shenzhen benchmark indexes were both up 0.1% in early trade after posting declines earlier in the week. The startup-focused ChiNext board was recently up 0.5%.

Expecting no drastic changes from the conclave, asset manager Pimco said it saw risk control and overall economic stability as top priorities for Chinese leaders.

In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average was up 0.2% in early Asia trade. It was poised to close with its 12th straight session of gains. The U.S. dollar erased its overnight gains against the yen, which hurt the country's exporters.

New Zealand's benchmark index edged up 0.2%, on course to close at a fresh record for a 12th straight trading day. Korea's Kospi was down 0.2%. Markets in Malaysia and Singapore were closed for public holidays.

Shares of mining company Rio Tinto (RIO) were recently down 0.1% in Sydney after U.S. regulators were suing the firm and two former top executives over claims they misled investors about the value of Mozambique coal assets obtained in a disastrous acquisition that caused huge losses. Late Tuesday, Rio said the fraud claims made by the Securities and Exchange Commission were "unwarranted" and would be proven wrong in court. Meanwhile, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.2%.

In Hong Kong, stocks came under pressure following recent strength, with many Chinese financial firms slightly lower. Shares of Bank of China (3988.HK) were down 0.7%, while Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (601398.SH) declined 0.3%. China Construction Bank (0939.HK) was flat. The Hang Seng Index was nearly unchanged.

Meanwhile, news that Iraqi forces have continued to move into Kurdish territory and comments from Iran that it didn't expect any impact on oil exports from President Donald Trump's refusal to certify a nuclear deal, helped support oil prices, analysts at Australia and New Zealand Banking said.

Brent , the global crude oil benchmark, was up 0.7% at $58.31 a barrel, while Nymex futures rose 0.5% to 52.14.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 17, 2017 23:03 ET (03:03 GMT)