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Asian stocks mostly higher, taking cues from Wall Street

SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets were mostly higher Wednesday, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street, as investors awaited more policy details from U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. Oil prices bounced back after a brief retreat that snapped an overnight rally.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei jumped 1.1 per cent to 17,862.21 and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.6 per cent to 1,979.65. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.6 per cent to 22,446.94, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.1 per cent lower to 3,204.38. Australia’s S&P/ASX was nearly unchanged at 5,327.70, while benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asia gained.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “International markets showed signs of pausing to wait on evidence of policy specifics before extending moves in the direction of the ‘Trump themes’ of fiscal stimulus and inflation,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a daily commentary.

OIL: Oil prices rallied overnight on hopes that OPEC members would agree to lower output when they meet later this month. They fell back in early Asian trading before bouncing back. Benchmark U.S. crude added 9 cents to $45.90 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract closed up $2.49, or 5.7 per cent, to $45.81 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 7 cents to $47.03 a barrel in London.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks finished higher on Tuesday as a rally in the oil markets pushed energy companies higher. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.3 per cent to 18,923.06. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.7 per cent to 2,180.39 and the Nasdaq composite added 1.1 per cent to 5,275.62.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 109.35 yen from 108.94 yen while the euro was unchanged at $1.0731.