Asian shares mostly higher after Dow tops 18,000 for the first time; Chinese markets lower

TOKYO – Shares climbed Wednesday in Asia after the Dow Jones industrial average surpassed 18,000 points in a yuletide rally. Chinese markets were mixed in volatile trading after Shanghai’s benchmark fell on Tuesday.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rose 1.2 per cent to 17,837.36 as the Japanese yen slipped against the U.S. dollar. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.3 per cent to 1,945.07 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 also gained 0.3 per cent to 5,394.50. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index edged 0.1 per cent higher to 23,349.34, while shares in Southeast Asia also were mostly higher. But the Shanghai Composite Index dropped 2.2 per cent to 2,966.33.

WALL STREET’S DAY: In a surge capping a year of market milestones, the Dow gained 64.73 points Tuesday to close at 18,024.17, up 0.4 per cent from its previous record close on Monday. The rally was helped by Commerce Department data showing that the economy grew at a 5 per cent annual rate in July-September, the fastest pace since the summer of 2003, powered by stronger consumer spending and business investment.

THE QUOTE: “This is going to end up being a bit better of a year for stocks and bonds than most people thought coming in,” said Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management. “The economy caught some steam and it’s able to stand up with its own two feet.”

CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar was trading at 120.34 Japanese yen, down from its close Tuesday of 120.65. The euro was little changed at $1.2177 from $1.2182 late Tuesday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 46 cents to $56.64 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 1.86 on Wednesday to $57.12. The price has fallen to about half its peak of $107 a barrel in June due to strong supplies and weaker global demand.

Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 48 cents to $61.21.

HOLIDAYS: U.S. and European markets will close early Wednesday ahead of the Christmas holiday.


AP Business Writer Alex Veiga in Los Angeles contributed.