Asian stocks mixed with overseas rally providing boost

TOKYO - Asian shares were mixed in early Wednesday trading, with only some markets cheered by an overseas rally.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.3 per cent in the morning session to 19,037.31, but trading was muted on the last trading day of the year ahead of the New Year's holidays.

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South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.3 per cent to 1,960.75. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.2 per cent to 21,957.97, while the Shanghai Composite added 0.2 per cent to 3,570.78. Other regional shares were also mixed, rising in Indonesia but dropping in Taiwan and Singapore.

WALL STREET: Technology and health care companies led a broad rally in U.S. stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 192.71 points, or 1.1 per cent, to finish at 17,720.98. The S&P 500 index gained 21.86 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 2,078.36. The Nasdaq composite added 66.95 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 5,107.94.

U.S. ECONOMY: The latest batch of U.S. economic data added to the upbeat sentiments. The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index increased from the previous month, reflecting positive views on the economy and job market. Separately, a key gauge of home values indicated that U.S. home prices climbed 5.5 per cent in October from a year earlier.

THE QUOTE: "This year's Santa rally is doing what many of its predecessors have done. The stock market continues to push higher on thin volume and with no need for a macro catalyst. At the moment, the market is all about sentiment and perceived value," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. He warned that caution could set in after the new year comes.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 67 cents to $37.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, losing some of the overnight price recovery. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slipped 49 cents to $37.30 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 120.50 yen, up from 120.37 yen late Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.0927 from $1.0977.

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AP Business Writer Alex Veiga contributed to this report.



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