Asian stocks rise on 'Santa rally' after Wall Street hits record highs

BEIJING, China – Asian stocks were mostly higher Tuesday after Wall Street closed at record highs in a traditional pre-Christmas advance.

KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent to 3,135.08 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.1 points to 23,432.19. Seoul’s Kospi declined 0.1 per cent to 1,940.42 and Tokyo was closed for a holiday. Singapore, New Zealand and Jakarta rose while Sydney declined.

THE QUOTE: “The Santa Clause rally is rolling on in global equities,” said strategist Stan Shamu of IG Markets in a report. “The bounce in crude oil prices seems to have been a flash in the pan with investors finally realizing that comments by OPEC members from the weekend did not imply they will look to correct the current supply situation. In fact, Saudi Arabia seems unfazed by the price slump and continues to focus on market share.”

WALL STREET: A rally started last week with investor concerns easing that the U.S. Federal Reserve might raise interest rates. On Monday, traders shrugged off news that sales of previously occupied U.S. homes fell 6.1 per cent last month and pushed prices higher for a fourth day. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.9 per cent to 17,959.44, breaking its previous record of 17,958.79 set on Dec. 5. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.4 per cent, to 2,078.54, breaking its Dec. 5 record of 2,075.37. The Nasdaq composite picked up 0.3 per cent to 4,781.42.

CHINA: The benchmark rose despite declines for major stocks including PetroChina Ltd. and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. But the Shanghai index still is up more than 50 per cent since its latest rally began in June. PetroChina was off 1.5 per cent but still is up more than 30 per cent in the past month.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 54 cents to $55.80 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, the contract fell $1.87 to close at $55.26. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 54 cents to $60.65.

CURRENCY: The dollar declined to Y120.13 yen from Monday’s 120.14 yen. The euro was unchanged at $1.22.