ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Gain Despite Jackson Hole Uncertainties

Nikkei leads gainers; typhoon halts Hong Kong trading

Global stocks kept rising and investors added to risk positions despite uncertainties about what could emerge from a central banking conclave in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which begins Thursday.

Asia-Pacific stocks were widely higher early Wednesday, getting a lift from improved sentiment and a stronger U.S. dollar. But Chinese equities fell modestly on a 5% slide in metals futures and Australia's benchmark turned lower as Commonwealth Bank of Australia faced a potential shareholder lawsuit in the wake of a government money-laundering case.

"The bulls seem to have taken back some control here," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Group. After Asian stocks broadly rose Tuesday, "we expect another positive session ahead and traders adding to risk."

Investors turned upbeat after days of concerns about American politics and North Korea tensions, which had kept a lid on equities and favored haven assets. But comments from U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan that tax-reform proposals are gaining traction helped sentiment.

Meanwhile, investors were doing some strategic positioning ahead of the Jackson Hole economic gathering. Comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi will be closely watched for clues on monetary policy.

Jane Fu, a sales trader at CMC Markets, said investors don't expect either to break any news, but market participants "everywhere remain cautious ahead of the important gathering."

After a week straight of declines, putting it at four-month lows, Japan's Nikkei led Asian stocks higher Wednesday. The index was recently up 0.6% as the dollar regained some ground against the yen; the dollar rose to Yen109.70, a half-yen higher than where the pair was when equities trading ended Tuesday.

Tech stocks were strong in Asia, with that sector helping send Taiwan's Taiex up 0.5%. Apple suppliers Hon Hai (2317.TW) and Largan (3008.TW) each rose at least 1%.

Meanwhile, a 1% gain for Samsung Electronics (005930.SE) helped South Korea's Kospi rise 0.2%.

Trading in Hong Kong was halted for at least the morning session as Typhoon Hato neared the city with maximum sustained winds of 165 kilometers an hour.

The dollar's overnight gains were extended slightly in Asia trading. That, and an industry group's downbeat reading on U.S. gasoline and distillates inventories for last week, helped pressure oil in Asian trading. U.S. and global crude benchmarks were recently down about 0.5%, erasing Tuesday's modest gains.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 22, 2017 23:06 ET (03:06 GMT)