Asian stock markets mostly up on the heels of improving small business sentiment in the US

BANGKOK – Enthusiasm on Wall Street sparked by another positive report on the U.S. economy helped push most Asian stock markets higher Wednesday.

The National Federation of Independent Business reported a slight improvement in confidence among small business owners in the U.S. in April. That helped boost the Dow Jones industrial average to close at a record high Tuesday.

“A combination of further improvement of economic performance and low inflation in the US should keep risk appetite buoyant,” said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong in an email commentary.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index surged 2.3 per cent to 15,096.97. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 per cent to 23,017.70. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia also rose.

South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.2 per cent to 1,965.19 while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.8 per cent to 5,180.20.

Also helping to shore up the mood were figures, released Tuesday, showing industrial production among the 17 countries that use the euro rose a better-than-expected 1 per cent in March. The figures raised some expectations that Europe’s recession may have ended. The first estimate of the euro currency region’s gross domestic product in the first three months is due for release Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.8 per cent, to 15,215.25. The S&P 500 index jumped 1 per cent, to 1,650.34. Both closed at all-time highs after stalling on Monday. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.7 per cent, to 3,462.61.

Benchmark oil for June delivery rose was up 12 cents to $94.33 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dropped 96 cents to close at $94.21 a barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2925 from $1.2937 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 102.18 yen from 102.24 yen.


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