HONG KONG: Most Asian stock markets, including Malaysia, advanced Thursday, snubbing a decline on Wall Street overnight, with shares in Japan and Taiwan hitting seven-year highs and Hong Kong and Singapore closing at new records.
In Kula Lumpur the Malaysian shares inched up as traders expect the index retest the record intraday high of 1,391.41 points.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index of 100 blue chips ended 1.69 points, or 0.12 percent, higher at 1,387.96 in heavy volume
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index advanced for a sixth day, adding 28.62 points, or 0.16 percent, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange to 18,240.30 points - the highest close since May 2, 2000.
Over the past six sessions, the index has gained 2.86 percent.
Steel makers and trading companies led the advance following the release of trade balance data, which showed that strong exports helped widen May's trade surplus.
A recent depreciation in the yen, which inflates exporters' overseas earnings and make exports less expensive and more competitive, has helped buoy the market.
The U.S. dollar, which rose to a 4 1/2-year high of 123.73 yen on Monday, rose to 123.68 yen late Thursday, up from 123.61 yen late Wednesday in New York. The euro dropped to US$1.3382.
Investors in Tokyo are also optimistic that the economy will continue its steady growth, supported by consumer spending and capital investment and exports.
Still, traders said the market remains vulnerable to large swings on Wall Street.
A 1.1 percent drop in the Dow Jones industrial average Wednesday triggered an opening sell-off in Tokyo before the market recovered.
Gainers included steel maker JFE Holdings Inc., which rose 1.06 percent to 7,620 yen (US$61.45), and trading house Mitsubishi Corp. gained 4.62 percent to 3,400 yen (US$27.42).
In Hong Kong, the blue chip Hang Seng Index gained 270 points, or 1.3 percent, to 21,954.67.
The benchmark index refused to take a breather despite a 1,106-point rally in the previous four sessions.
Traders said Hong Kong would gain from an influx of Chinese capital after the latest news that mainland brokerages and funds can invest in shares and instruments, including bonds and futures, traded overseas.
So far, Hong Kong is the only approved market.
The rules will take effect July 5.Blue chips were mixed while major beneficiaries under the latest qualified domestic institutional investor program jumped.
Mainland insurer China Life rose 6.3 percent to HK$28.50 and its smaller peer Ping An Insurance jumped 4.6 percent to HK$54.Heavyweight HSBC slipped 0.3 percent to HK$145.40 as the appointment of the bank's new Asia Pacific chief executive officer is taken as neutral by the market.
China Mobile, the world's largest wireless phone operator by subscribers, rose 2.4 percent to HK$82.35 on rotational buying.
BANGKOK: Thailand's shares slipped on profit-taking. The Stock Exchange of Thailand's SET index fell 13.32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 776.20.
JAKARTA: Indonesia's shares fell as investors locked in profits from recent gains. The Jakarta Stock Exchange Composite Index dropped 8.73 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,152.34.
MANILA: Philippine shares slid, taking their cue from Wall Street, with gains in blue chips trimming early losses. The benchmark 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index dropped 4.29 points, or 0.1 percent, at 3,714.59, after hitting a record close of 3,718.88 Wednesday.
SEOUL: South Korean shares gained modestly as heavyweight chipmakers rose on a rebound in DRAM chip prices. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, ended up 10.45 points, or 0.6 percent, at 1,794.24.
SHANGHAI: Chinese stocks rose as heavyweight insurers surged on speculation a possible interest rate could boost their earnings. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.2 percent to 4,230.82. The Shenzhen Composite Index inched up 0.1 percent to 1,245.19.
SINGAPORE: Singapore shares closed at a record high as merger and acquisition activity helped to offset the negative lead from Wall Street. The Straits Times Index gained 10.82 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 3639.49.
SYDNEY: The Australian share market outperformed Wall Street for the third day running, cushioned by BHP Billiton which closed at a record high and resilient share markets across the region. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 9.9 points, or 0.2 percent, at 6,387 points.
TAIPEI: Taiwan shares rose for their fourth consecutive session to a new seven-year high. The Weighted Price Index of the Taiwan Stock Exchange rose 96.11 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 8,851.99 in heavy volume.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand shares ended lower as weakness in Australia and on Wall Street overnight prompted some investors to cash in on recent gains. The benchmark NZX-50 index closed down 22.6 points, or 0.5 percent, at 4,300.57. - APLatest NYSE, NASDAQ and other business news from AP-Wire
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