By Ese Erheriene
Asian stocks finished broadly higher Wednesday, with technology shares fueling the gains.
Asia’s advance came on the back of fresh highs on Wall Street — the tech-heavy Nasdaq /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +2.09% notched its 67th record closing high of 2017 — and strong results in Asia and Europe on Tuesday.
Hong Kong’s stock benchmark topped 30,000 for the first time in a decade. The Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.46% ended 0.6% higher at 30,003.49, its fourth straight day of gains.
The Hang Seng’s recent gains mean “a lot of foreign capital is still betting that the Hong Kong market will go higher,” said Margaret Yang, a strategist at CMC Markets. The benchmark has jumped 36% this year, making it among the world’s best performers.
It wasn’t, however, helped on Wednesday by Tencent Holdings /zigman2/quotes/204605823/delayed HK:700 +0.20% , which fell 0.7%. The Chinese tech giant’s shares have surged this month, pushing its market capitalization above $500 billion. Instead, financials were driving the Hang Seng on Wednesday, especially banks. HSBC PLC /zigman2/quotes/202687335/delayed HK:5 +0.19% rose 1.8%, ICBC /zigman2/quotes/201401473/delayed HK:1398 +0.24% added 1.6% as did China Construction /zigman2/quotes/208974133/delayed HK:939 +0.61% .
Benchmarks in Japan /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +2.62% and Taiwan , which have major tech companies, rose 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively. Japanese electronics stocks were among the region’s big gainers, with TDK /zigman2/quotes/208948266/delayed JP:6762 +4.85% surging 5.9% to a fresh two-year high.
The Nikkei’s advance came despite the U.S. dollar losing some strength during Asian trading, after outgoing Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said that she is uncertain weak inflation is transitory. “It may be that there is something more endemic or long-lasting here that we need to pay attention to,” Yellen said in a discussion with Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England.
The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY +0.3323% traded around ¥112.30, compared with ¥112.50 earlier Wednesday, but some of that reflects money going into Japanese stocks, said Stephen Innes, head of Asia trading at Oanda.
Other regional highlights include DBS Group /zigman2/quotes/204572323/delayed SG:D05 -0.36% , Singapore’s largest bank, put on 1.9% and topped its late-1999 record high during the session.
Also, Australia’s stock benchmark /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -0.54% rose 0.4%, tracking Asian gains in oil prices. After crude rose overnight, futures jumped further following the release of bullish U.S. oil-inventory data. The U.S. crude benchmark moved up 1.4% to $57.65 a barrel and the global Brent standard added on 0.8%.
A North Korean defector's desperate dash
Video footage of a North Korean soldier defecting to the South shows him driving a jeep toward the military demarcation line before getting stuck and then running for the border, while several North Korean soldiers can be seen firing at him. Photo: USFK