- POSTED: 15 Jan 2014 16:36
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Asia's markets mostly rose on Wednesday after a surprisingly strong batch of retail data out of the United States eased concerns about the world's number one economy.
HONG KONG: Asia's markets mostly rose on Wednesday after a surprisingly strong batch of retail data out of the United States eased concerns about the world's number one economy.
The better-than-forecast figures provided a springboard for a rally on Wall Street and gave some support for the dollar against the yen.
Tokyo led gainers to surge 2.50 per cent -- its best performance of 2014 helping it claw back some of the losses of more than three per cent suffered on Tuesday. The Nikkei ended 386.33 points higher at 15,808.73.
Sydney rose 0.64 per cent, or 33.4 points, to 5,245.4 and Seoul added 0.37 per cent, or 7.21 points, to 1,953.28.
Hong Kong ended 0.49 per cent higher, adding 110.72 points, to 22,902.00 but Shanghai closed down 0.17 per cent, or 3.49 points, at 2,023.35.
The US Commerce Department said retail sales -- a key gauge of the consumer spending that drives the economy -- rose 0.2 per cent in December, upending estimates of no change.
That figure is an even more impressive 0.7 per cent if a sharp fall in auto sales is taken out of the equation owing to severe cold weather across the country.
Tuesday's figure boosted Wall Street's main indexes, with the Dow jumping 0.71 per cent, the S&P 500 up 1.08 per cent and the Nasdaq adding 1.69 per cent.
It also soothed concerns about the world's number one economy after Friday's disappointing jobs report that had fuelled speculation the Federal Reserve could hold off announcing any further cuts to its stimulus programme when it meets later this month.
"A gradual US economic recovery and an incremental tapering (of US monetary stimulus) will likely continue," Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management, told Dow Jones Newswires.
Currency traders moved back into the dollar after it sank on Friday and Monday after the jobs report.
The dollar bought 104.30 yen in afternoon Tokyo trade compared with 104.20 in New York and much stronger than the 103.43 yen in Asia earlier Tuesday.
The euro was trading at 142.30 yen against 142.52 yen but well up from the 141.27 yen Tuesday in Tokyo.
The yen faced added downward pressure from news Japan's current account deficit had ballooned to a record 592.8 billion yen in November.
The single currency fetched $1.3640 compared with $1.3677 in New York.
In Tokyo, Japan Airlines rose 1.33 per cent despite earlier announcing that it has grounded one of its Dreamliner jets after discovering "white smoke" apparently coming from a battery system during a check-up for departure.
GS Yuasa, the battery maker that supplies lithium-ion batteries for the planes, slipped 0.68 per cent.
On oil markets, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was down two cents to $92.57 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for February dropped 12 cents to $106.27.
Gold fetched $1,239.10 at 1105 GMT compared with $1,249.20 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
-- Bangkok lost 1.45 per cent, or 18.84 points, to 1,277.03.
Coal producer Banpu dropped 4.46 per cent to 26.75 baht, while Airports of Thailand gained 4.08 per cent to 166.00 baht.
-- Jakarta gained 1.16 per cent, or 50.82 points, to 4,441.60.
Mobile provider Indosat added 6.18 per cent to 4,295 rupiah, while paper firm Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia fell 3.63 per cent to 1,725 rupiah.
-- Kuala Lumpur lost 0.60 per cent, or 10.94 points, to 1,824.03.
Financial firm CIMB Group Holdings shed 2.9 per cent to 7.09 ringgit, while palm oil giant Sime Darby fell 1.0 per cent to 9.21.
-- Taipei rose 0.64 per cent, or 54.41 points, to 8602.55.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. added 1.45 per cent to NT$105.0 while leading chip design house MediaTek was 0.84 per cent higher at NT$419.0.
-- Manila added 0.38 per cent, or 22.56 points, to 5,958.12.
Ayala Corp. added 1.24 per cent to close at 530 pesos and Aboitiz Equity Ventures rose 2.26 per cent at 54.20 pesos.
-- Mumbai jumped 1.22 per cent, or 256.61 points, to 21,289.49.
Engineering giant Larsen and Toubro rose 2.71 per cent to 998.8 rupees while private ICICI Bank rose 2.00 per cent to 1,058.35 rupees.
-- Singapore climbed 0.62 per cent, or 19.50 points, to 3,143.25.
Oil rig maker Keppel Corp dropped 0.09 per cent to S$10.85 while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation gained 0.31 per cent to S$9.73.
-- Wellington jumped 0.98 per cent, or 47.88 points, to 4,913.03.