Most Asia-Pacific Markets Are Higher

By Gregor Stuart HunterFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Most Asia-Pacific stocks started higher Tuesday as changes to the tax code in the U.S. inched closer to completion, though Japan and Korean indexes gave up early gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit its 70th record close of the year and the Nasdaq Composite rose above 7000 intraday for the first time ahead of voting in the U.S. Congress that will begin later today.

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The Nikkei initially rose as much as 0.4% and Korea's Kospi jumped 0.7%, but both later entered negative territory.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 hit a fresh 10-year high, helped by gains in mining stocks. The index rose 0.6%, with oil-related companies up more than 1%.

The Bank of Japan begins a two-day meeting on Wednesday and the Federal Reserve is moving markets.

Treasury yields rose Monday after San Francisco Fed President John Williams, who will votes on the central bank's rate-setting committee next year, said the U.S. economy had "very good momentum" and the passage of tax reform hasn't changed the central bank's economic forecasts. But Minneapolis Fed chief Neel Kashkari, who voted against rate increases this year, warned Monday that the central bank could raise rates too quickly, driving the U.S. economy into recession.

Analysts in Asia were relaxed about prospects of the Fed upsetting gains for emerging markets. "We are not too concerned about Fed rate hikes," said Aninda Mitra, sovereign analyst at BNY Mellon Investment Management. "Two hikes in 2018 are largely priced in, and an extra hike or two will not prove too destabilizing" for emerging markets.

Elsewhere, bitcoin prices remained in the $18,500 to $19,000 range after initial weakness following yesterday's start of CME futures trading. The cryptocurrency was recently around $18,900, according to CoinDesk.

Write to Gregor Stuart Hunter at gregor.hunter@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 18, 2017 20:56 ET (01:56 GMT)