HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks advanced Wednesday after Wall Street’s main index closed at a fresh record high and Spain’s Catalonia crisis eased after an independence leader backed away from plans to break away immediately.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index rose further a day after its highest close in 21 years, adding 0.2 percent to 20,870.24. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6 percent to 2,449.53 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.2 percent to 28,545.98. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China edged up 0.2 percent to 3,387.54. Australia’s S&P/ASX 20 advanced 0.6 percent to 5,770.10. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.
GLOBAL OUTLOOK: Sentiment brightened after the International Monetary Fund’s raised its latest forecast for global growth to 3.6 percent for this year and 3.7 percent in 2018, the fastest rates since 2010. It expects growth to accelerate in the United States, the 19-country Eurozone, Japan and China this year, with a pickup in investment, industrial production and consumer and business confidence underpinning the improved global outlook.
SPANISH TURMOIL: Catalonia’s president backed away from plans to immediately break away from Spain following results of a disputed Oct. 1 referendum in favor of the region’s independence, easing pressure on the euro. In a speech, regional President Carles Puigdemont said he would delay a declaration of independence for several weeks to give dialogue a chance.
US DATA: Markets will be watching for the release of the Federal Reserve’s September meeting minutes later in the day for new hints on the U.S. central bank’s stance on interest rates, which many analysts expect will be raised one more time by the end of the year. Also on the horizons are the first corporate earnings as the U.S. quarterly reporting season gets underway.
MARKET VIEW: “Rosy equity market conditions in the U.S., coupled with the sharp upturn in crude prices ought to provide a push for Asian markets this morning,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks finished on a high note again, with the Dow Jones industrial average gaining 0.3 percent to a record 22,830.68. The Standard & Poor’s 500 added 0.2 percent to 2,550.64 and the Nasdaq composite picked up 0.1 percent to 6,587.25.
ENERGY: Oil futures extended gains. Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 12 cents to $51.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added $1.34, or 2.7 percent, to settle at $50.92 a barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 5 cents to $56.66 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.46 yen from 112.44 yen in late trading Tuesday. The euro slipped to $1.1804 from $1.1808 after hitting an intraday high of $1.1829 following Puigdemont’s speech.