HONG KONG — Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday in holiday-thinned trading as investors took their lead from Wall Street’s latest advance into record territory.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.3 percent to 20,675.44 a day after closing at its highest in two years. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.7 percent to 28,392.77 but Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.7 percent to 5,660.40. Stock markets were closed in mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan for holidays.
LOOKING FOR LEADS: With some key Asian markets closed, investors had little to go on for their trading and were awaiting fresh leads elsewhere. They were sitting tight ahead of U.S. data later in the day, including the monthly private ADP payroll report and the ISM non-manufacturing. The figures will provide the latest insights into the world’s biggest economy, which could factor into the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise interest rates again by the end of the year.
FED: Investors were also awaiting a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen as speculation swirls about who President Donald Trump will tap to lead the U.S. central bank when her term ends early next year. The uncertainty has left the dollar in limbo. White House officials said last week Trump has met with former Fed board member Kevin Warsh, and current member Jerome Powell. But Trump has said he could re-nominate Yellen.
QUOTEWORTHY: “The focus may also be brought to the next Fed chair with Fed’s Yellen’s speech,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore. “Although the names on the list may be of little surprise to the market, the conversation is expected to further heat up on this development.”
WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks pushed higher to end in record territory. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.2 percent to 2,534.58 for its sixth straight day of gains. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.4 percent to 22,641.67, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2 percent to 6,531.71.
ENERGY: Oil futures fell further. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 38 cents to $50.04 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract dipped 16 cents to settle at $50.42 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, fell 35 cents to $55.65 per barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 112.68 Japanese yen from 112.86 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1776 from $1.1745.