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Asian shares gain as geopolitical tensions subside

Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday (Aug 12), tracking rallies on Wall Street and in Europe as easing geopolitical tensions lifted investor confidence.

HONG KONG: Asian shares were mostly higher Tuesday (Aug 12), tracking rallies on Wall Street and in Europe as easing geopolitical tensions lifted investor confidence.

Tokyo gained 0.20 percent, or 30.79 points, to 15,161.31, extending its recovery from sharp falls last week fuelled by Washington's announcement that it had authorised air strikes in Iraq. Sydney jumped 1.34 percent, or 73.3 points, to 5,530.30, Seoul rose 0.10 percent, or 2.10 points, to 2,041.47 and Hong Kong gained 0.18 percent, or 43.39 points, to 24,689.41.

But Shanghai slipped 0.14 percent, or 3.06 points, to 2,221.59 as investors locked in profits following recent gains.

Bangkok was closed for a public holiday.

US President Barack Obama, who reluctantly ordered the air strikes last week to beat back rampaging Islamic State extremists, welcomed the nomination of a new Iraqi prime minister Monday to replace controversial leader Nuri al-Maliki. Obama voiced hope that a new Iraqi leadership would forge an "inclusive government" and begin to ease the sectarian divisions that have fuelled the crisis.

Investors were also tracking the crisis in conflict-torn Ukraine as concerns persisted over a possible Russian military incursion.

Russia said Monday it would send a humanitarian convoy to the east of the country, despite strong warnings from the West that Moscow should not act alone in case the operation is a cover for sending in troops. Russia insists its military would not be involved in the convoy, but Kiev said Moscow could only play a role as part of a broader Red Cross mission.

US stocks finished higher on Monday as subsiding geopolitical tensions boosted market confidence. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.10 percent to 16,569.98, while the broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.28 percent to 1,936.92.

On currency markets, the dollar rallied against the yen and euro after the unit fell in the wake of last week's announcement of US air strikes. The greenback was at 102.29 yen in afternoon trade compared with 102.21 yen in New York late Monday. The euro was quoted at $1.3375 and 136.81 yen, from $1.3383 and 136.79 yen in New York.

On oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery eased 33 cents to $97.75 while Brent crude for September was down 38 cents to $104.30 in afternoon trade.

Gold traded at $1,311.12 an ounce at 0835 GMT compared to $1,307.68 an ounce on Monday.

In other markets:

- Taipei shed 0.11 percent, or 9.79 points, to 9,163.12.

TSMC rose 0.83 percent to TW$121.5 while HTC fell 0.79 percent to TW$125.5.

- Manila closed up 0.39 percent, or 26.83 points, at 6,983.49.

Top-traded Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. gained 1.17 percent to 3,116 pesos while Ayala Land Inc. rose 2.09 percent to 31.70 pesos.

- Wellington rose 0.12 percent, or 6.18 points, to 5,055.81.

Chorus was up 0.29 percent at NZ$1.735 and Fletcher Building gained 1.02 percent to NZ$8.90. 

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