Asia stock markets rise on earnings, await US economic growth report

TOKYO – Asian stocks rose Wednesday ahead of U.S. economic data and as cheery earnings from major Japanese companies such as Honda Motor Co. countered a lower close on Wall Street.

KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 recouped losses at the open to rise 0.3 per cent to 15,662.84 in morning trading. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.8 per cent to 24,825.00. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.9 per cent to 2,079.40. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.7 per cent to 5,627.30.

HAPPY HONDA: Honda shares added 3 per cent after a strong quarterly earnings report Tuesday, released after Tokyo stock trading closed, which prompted the Japanese automaker to raise its full year projections. The cheap yen is working as a plus for export manufacturers such as Honda, which are expanding sales in China and other emerging markets.

ANALYST TAKE: “A weaker US close and news of further sanctions against Russia is likely to limit early buying support for stocks this morning,” says Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. Still, investors are likely to hold on to stocks, rather than taking any major action, despite news of more sanctions against Russia, he said. President Barack Obama has announced expanded sanctions against Russia in response to the downing of a Malaysian airliner over an area of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

US DATA: Markets are looking ahead to key data being released later this week. U.S. gross domestic product figures for the April-June quarter, scheduled for Wednesday, are among the most important. Federal Reserve policymakers also conclude a two-day meeting later in the day. The next day, there’s a report on China’s manufacturing industry, a key sign for regional growth. On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report.

CURRENCIES, OIL: The euro was little changed at $1.3412 from $1.3411 late Tuesday. The dollar was higher at 102.08 yen from 102.10. Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery was down 2 cents to $100.95 a barrel.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 70.48 points, or 0.4 per cent, to finish at 16,912.11 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 slipped 8.96 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 1,969.95. The Nasdaq shed 2.21 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4,442.70. Nine of the 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 fell. Only telecommunications stocks rose.