Asian Shares Edge Up In Cautious Trade


Asian stocks finished mostly higher on Wednesday as higher commodity prices lifted resource stocks and the Japanese yen weakened on solid U.S. non-manufacturing activity data released overnight. Nevertheless, renewed trade concerns helped to limit overall gains to some extent.

China's Shanghai Composite index finished marginally higher at 3,115.18 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained half a percent to close at 31,259.10. South Korean markets were closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

Japanese shares hit a two-week high as technology stocks followed their U.S. peers higher. The Nikkei average closed up 86.19 points or 0.38 percent at 22,625.73 after hitting as high as 22,662.82 earlier in the day, its highest level since May 23. The broader Topix index closed 0.15 percent higher at 1,777.59.

Exporters like Panasonic, Toyota Motor and Sony climbed 1-3 percent. Sharp Corp gained about 1 percent after it agreed to acquire Toshiba's personal computer business for 4 billion yen, or $36 million. Subaru Corp shares shed 1.4 percent after the automaker said it found more cars affected by data fabrication.

Australian shares finished modestly higher after the Nasdaq Composite index hit a record high for the second consecutive session overnight. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 30.20 points or 0.50 percent to 6,025.10 while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 28.90 points or 0.47 percent at 6,137.40.

Higher base metal prices helped lift miners, with BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto closing up between 1 percent and 2.5 percent. Gold miner Newcrest Mining rallied 2.1 percent after an increase in gold prices.

Energy stocks like Woodside Petroleum, Santos Oil Search and Origin Energy jumped 2-3 percent after crude oil futures rose more than 1 percent on Tuesday.

ANZ slid half a percent after criminal charges were laid against the bank. The other three big banks dropped 1-2 percent.

Metcash fell 2.2 percent after the IGA supermarkets supplier said it would take a $352 million impairment in its full-year results.

On the data front, Australia's gross domestic product gained a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent sequentially in the first three months of 2018, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

That beat expectations for an increase of 0.8 percent following the 0.4 percent gain in the previous three months. On a yearly basis, GDP expanded 3.1 percent, up from 2.4 percent in the three months prior.

New Zealand shares hit a record high as investors lapped up shares of companies offering hefty dividends. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 rose 56.41 points or 0.64 percent to 8,813.45, with Ryman Healthcare and F&P Healthcare closing up 2.1 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

The volume of total building activity in New Zealand dropped a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent sequentially in the first three months of 2018, Statistics New Zealand said. That was well shy of forecasts for an increase of 0.5 percent.

Separately, the results of a survey by ANZ showed that New Zealand's commodity prices increased for the fifth straight month in May.

India's Sensex was rising 0.6 percent ahead of the repo rate decision by RBI. Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was declining 0.2 percent and Singapore's Straits Times index was losing half a percent, while Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was gaining 0.9 percent and the Taiwan Weighted added 0.9 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks ended narrowly mixed as figures on the labor market and services sector activity strengthened the case for a Federal Reserve interest increase next week.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 0.4 percent to reach another fresh record closing high amid gains in technology shares like Apple and eBay.