KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) - Asian markets gained Wednesday, building on Wall Street’s overnight rally. Shares in Japan rose on stronger-than-expected trade data and a weaker yen.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 surged 1.4 percent to 19,041.19 points while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent to 23,028.69. Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 gained 0.4 percent to 5,671.50 and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.2 percent to 3,149.55. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.1 percent to 2,066.94. Benchmarks in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.
Japan posted a trade surplus in 2016, its first in six years, as lower oil prices pulled imports lower, the government reported Wednesday. The 4.1 trillion yen ($35.8 billion) surplus compared with a 2.8 trillion yen deficit in 2015. Exports fell 7.4 percent from a year earlier to 70.04 trillion yen ($617 billion) while imports dropped 16 percent to 66 trillion yen ($581 billion).
U.S. stocks posted solid gains Tuesday, spurred by better-than-expected corporate earnings and President Donald Trump’s approval of two controversial oil pipelines in the U.S. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.6 percent to 19,912.71. The S&P 500 index gained 0.7 percent to 2,280.07, the highest close for the index since Jan. 6. The Nasdaq added 0.9 percent to 5600.96, the highest close for the tech-heavy index since Jan. 13. Small-company stocks outpaced the rest of the market, with the Russell 2000 surging 1.6 percent to 1,369.21.
“What Trump has done since his inauguration is generally consistent with his promises during the election campaign. The simple and easy to remember slogan ‘buy American and hire American’ will be his key pursuit in the foreseeable future. The good news for the U.S. stock market is that a new wave of the ‘Trump rally’ has probably just started,” Margaret Yang Yan, market analyst with CMC Markets, said in a report.
Benchmark U.S. crude dipped 15 cents to $55.03 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 43 cents to close at $53.18 on Tuesday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 7 cents to $55.37 in London. It gained 21 cents the previous session to $55.44.
In currency markets, the dollar retreated to 113.706 yen from 113.89. The euro rose to $1.0724 from $1.0723.