HONG KONG–Asian stock markets extended their gains Wednesday, with buying supported by another Wall Street rally as a positive reading on U.S. growth and consumer spending renewed confidence in the world’s top economy. Oil prices also enjoyed another rise — with the U.S. benchmark at parity with its European counterpart after overtaking it Tuesday for the first time in nearly a year — while regional energy firms ticked higher. U.S. stocks climbed for a second day on data showing steady economic growth in line with expectations during July-September. Personal consumption, which drives about two-thirds of the economy, was also solid. The figures settled some nerves on global markets. Traders had grown concerned about the outlook due to the plunge in oil prices and weakness outside the United States, particularly in mainland China. Last week’s euphoria over the U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate rise, which had boosted overall confidence in the economy, had also started to give way to caution about the bank’s plans for its next rise. “Consumer spending looks like it’s helping the U.S. economy,” James Lindsay, an Auckland-based fund manager at Nikko Asset Management, told Bloomberg News. “Volumes tend to get pretty light at this time of year. Markets have had a reasonable run and value is a lot harder to come by. “The key things are still what happens with China, the flow-on effects into commodities and what the Fed does and how that affects sentiment and currencies.” Crude prices saw a rare second straight gain after climbing Tuesday, when WTI topped Brent for the first time since January.
Attention is now on a weekly stockpiles report later in the day from the U.S. Department of Energy. Energy firms were buoyant after a painful year. Sydney-listed Rio Tinto surged 4.2 percent and BHP Billiton was up 3.5 percent, with a rise in iron ore prices also providing support. CNOOC, PetroChina and Sinopec in Hong Kong all soared 4 percent while Woodside gained more than 1 percent in Sydney. On stock markets, Hong Kong ended up 1 percent, Sydney closed 0.5 percent higher and Seoul strengthened 0.3 percent. However, Shanghai succumbed to late profit-taking, slipping in the last 20 minutes to end 0.4 percent lower.
In early European trade London advanced 0.9 percent, Frankfurt jumped 1.3 percent and Paris added 1.0 percent. Key figures around 0830 GMT
Hong Kong — Hang Seng: UP 0.96 percent at 22,040.59 (close) Shanghai — composite: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,636.09 (close) Sydney — S&P/ASX200: UP 0.5 percent at 5,141.80 (close) London — FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 6,137.1
Tokyo — Nikkei 225: closed New York — Dow: UP 1.0 percent at 17,417.27 (close)