Asian shares up after Wall Street rally

Parvez Jabri March 18, 2014

imageHONG KONG: Asian markets rose on Tuesday following a Wall Street rally as traders shrugged off growing tensions between the West and Russia following Crimea's vote for Kremlin rule.

After the weekend vote, the result of which was widely expected, attention turned to economic matters. Better than expected US data provided support as investors await the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting.

Tokyo rose 0.94 percent, or 133.60 points, to 14,411.27, Seoul added 0.66 percent, or 12.68 points, to close at 1,940.21 and Sydney advanced 0.51 percent, or 27.0 points, to 5,344.6.

Shanghai closed flat, edging up 1.52 points to 2,025.20, and in late trade Hong Kong was 0.34 percent higher.

The United States and European Union on Monday slapped sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, a day after Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to return to Moscow's fold.

Western governments said they will freeze assets of key Russian presidential aides and lawmakers and target Crimean “separatist” leaders as well as ousted former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

And President Barack Obama warned of further measures if Moscow continues to intervene in Ukraine.

“The Ukraine situation remains delicate, but at least has not spilled over into violence, despite the opposition by Western powers,” said Daiwa Securities senior strategist Tsuyoshi Nomaguchi.

However, Kathy Lien of BK Asset Management, said: “The bottom line is that it is very difficult to be optimistic under these circumstances because of the material risk that the crisis in the Ukraine will deepen.”

After last week's heavy sell-off in New York, US shares bounced back on Monday. The Dow jumped 1.13 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.96 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.81 percent.

US traders were buoyed by data showing industrial output increased more than expected in February, adding to a growing feeling that the world's number one economy is on a recovery track.

The Fed begins a two-day policy meeting Tuesday that analysts forecast will see a further cut in its stimulus programme.

On forex markets, the dollar edged higher against the yen as investors grew more confident in higher-risk assets.

The dollar fetched 101.70 yen compared with 101.68 yen in New York Monday. The yen is considered a safe haven and strengthens in times of economic or political uncertainty.

The euro bought $1.3931 and 141.60 yen against $1.3921 and 141.58 yen.

Oil prices were mixed. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for April delivery, eased 13 cents to $97.95 in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude gained 28 cents to $106.52 for its May contract.

Gold fetched $1,361.27 an ounce at 0700 GMT compared with $1,378.76 late Monday.

In other markets:

— Taipei added 0.37 percent, or 31.84 points, to 8,731.94.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co rose 0.44 percent to Tw$114.5, while smartphone maker HTC fell 0.66 percent to Tw$150.0.

— Wellington ended up 0.94 percent, or 47.64 points, at 5,135.66.

Fletcher Building rose 1.46 percent to NZ$9.74 and Telecom gained 1.41 percent to NZ$2.515.

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