CANBERA (Alliance News) - Asian stocks rose broadly on Tuesday after the Dow index closed above 17,000 for the first time in a week overnight, reflecting Citigroup's strong earnings report and a fresh round of merger and acquisition activity. Gains remained modest, however, ahead of US Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's congressional testimony later in the global day.
Japanese shares rose following Wall Street's advance and as the yen weakened, lifting exporter shares. The Nikkei average rose 0.64% to 15,395.16, while the broader Topix index gained 0.65%. Banks and automakers led the gainers as the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy steady and decided to persist with its policy of expanding monetary base at an annual rate of 60-70 trillion yen. The central bank's assessment of domestic economic conditions remains unchanged, with the bank seeing a moderate expansion, as a trend.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, the country's biggest bank, rose a percent, rival Mizuho Financial Group gained half a percent, insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance advanced 1.7% and consumer finance lender Aiful soared 7.7%. KDDI Corp closed up 0.4% on a report the mobile carrier and trading house Sumitomo plan to operate a mobile phone service in Myanmar in partnership with the state-run Myanma Posts and Telecommunications.
Bridgestone Corp. closed up 3.4%, extending recent gains. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries gained 0.8% after its aircraft unit reached a tentative deal to sell 40 regional jets to US carrier Eastern AirLines Group Inc.
China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.18% to 2,070.36 and Hong Kong'sHang Seng index finished 0.49% higher at 23,459.96 ahead of a flurry of Chinese economic data due on Wednesday, including second-quarter GDP figures that will shed light on the strength of the world's second-largest economy.
Australian shares ended virtually unchanged as banks drifted lower after the interim report of David Murray's inquiry on Australia's financial system warned the big banks may need to lift their capital ratios to reduce the risk of failure. Both the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 and the broader All Ordinaries index closed on a flat note. Westpac, Commonwealth and ANZ fell between 0.2% and 0.9%, while NAB gained half a percent.
Miners gained ground, with BHP Billiton rising a percent, Rio Tinto adding 1.2% and Fortescue Metals Group closing up 1.7%. Newcrest Mining shed 0.6% after gold prices locked in their steepest losses in nearly seven months on Monday. Whitehaven Coal jumped 5.1% after the company said it sold 22% more coal this year than last year lifting production to a record level. In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum rose 0.6% and Santos added 0.3%, while Oil Search edged down 0.1%.
The minutes from Reserve Bank of Australia'sJuly 1 meeting showed that the central bank believes it is appropriate to have a period of stability in interest rates. The RBA board expects the public demand to be weak in the coming months and mining investment to decline, while GDP figures to be slightly below trend for the next 12 months. The members added that the Australian dollar remains very strong by historical standards. Separately, official data showed that Australia's new motor vehicle sales rose 1.7% in June from the previous month, faster than 0.4% growth in May.
South Korea's Kospi average rose 0.94% to 2,012.72, with automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors rallying 3-4% as the South Korean won fell against the dollar ahead of Yellen's testimony tonight.
New Zealand shares fell on valuation concerns after recent gains. The benchmark NZX-50 index dropped 0.24% to 5,115.40, with 29 of its components retreating. Telecom Corp slid 0.7% from a month high hit the day before, retailer Warehouse Group fell 1.3% and Kathmandu Holdings shed 0.6%.
Elsewhere, India's Sensex was moving up 0.3%, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite was rising 0.8% and the Taiwan Weighted average added half a percent, while Singapore's Straits Times index was marginally lower. The Malaysian market was closed for a public holiday.
US stocks rose overnight, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average notching a record intraday high, as investors reacted positively to news on the merger-and-acquisition front and better-than-expected earnings from Citigroup. The Dow rose 0.7%, the tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.6% and the S&P 500 added half a percent.