What you need to know:
> Sydney leads Asia-Pacific stock markets higher
> Yen falls past ¥113 per dollar for first time in five months
> BHP Billiton up 3 per cent on new target for iron ore output
> Oil prices largely give up previous day’s gains
Asia-Pacific bourses gained momentum from a solid day on Wall Street, with Japanese stocks getting a boost from a weaker yen while BHP Billiton led Australian miners higher after it raised its annual target range for iron ore output. Oil prices fell after climbing on Tuesday in the wake of a sharp sell-off at the start of the week.
Stock markets across the region were buoyant after US benchmarks finished with solid gains, helped by Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell expressing confidence in the outlook for the US economy. The S&P 500 index closed up 0.4 per cent.
Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.7 per cent as the mining segment gained 1.6 per cent and financials rose 0.4 per cent. BHP climbed as much as 3.4 per cent after the Anglo-Australian miner said it was aiming to increase iron ore production as much as 3 per cent during the 2019 financial year.
In Hong Kong, Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker with a dual-class share structure, rose as much as 6.2 per cent after the territory’s stock exchange said it was working with mainland Chinese bourses to address the question of including companies with weighted voting rights in the Stock Connect programmes linking the markets. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.3 per cent.
Tokyo’s Topix rose 0.6 per cent as the key industrial segment climbed 0.8 per cent, while Seoul’s Kospi Composite was up 0.2 per cent.
Forex and fixed income:
The dollar consolidated gains from Tuesday’s session, with the dollar index tracking the US currency against a basket of peers up 0.1 per cent at 95.038.
The Japanese yen slipped past the ¥113 mark for the first time since January as continuing geopolitical tensions took a back seat, undermining the currency’s perceived haven status. It weakened as much as 0.2 per cent to ¥113.08 per dollar.
Sovereign bonds were stable, with the yield on 10-year US Treasuries rising 1 basis point to 2.871 per cent.
Oil prices were walking back tentative gains from Tuesday. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was off 0.4 per cent at $71.86 a barrel, while US marker West Texas Intermediate was down 0.5 per cent at $67.72.
Gold rose 0.1 per cent to $1,227.78 per ounce.