Asian stock markets were mostly higher Tuesday as investors looked ahead to minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest meeting and Wall Street prepared to reopen after a three-day weekend.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.7 percent to 18,379.63 and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.3 percent to 3,249.01. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.1 percent to 24,181.31 while Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 shed 0.2 percent to 5,782.90. Seoul’s Kospi gained 1 percent to 2,106.19 and benchmarks in New Zealand and Jakarta also rose. Taiwan, Singapore and Manila declined.
Stock indexes reached record highs Friday, capping a fourth straight week of gains for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. U.S. markets were due to reopen Tuesday following the President’s Day holiday. Sentiment has benefited from reports last week showing the economy is improving and corporate profits are growing more quickly than expected. On Friday, the S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent to 2,351.16 points. The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 0.1 percent at 20,624.05. The Nasdaq rose 0.4 percent, to 5,838.58.
A gauge of Japanese manufacturing activity for February rose to its highest level since 2014. The flash estimate of the purchasing managers’ index rose to 53.5 from January’s 52.7 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 show an expansion. The index showed price pressures strengthening.
The Federal Reserve is due to release minutes of its January policy meeting on Wednesday, which might provide new insight into the U.S. central bank’s views on interest rates. Last week Fed chief Janet Yellen indicated the Fed is likely to speed up the pace of interest-rate rises if the job market remains healthy and inflation stays on track.
Greece and its European creditors agreed Monday to resume talks on what economic reforms the country must make next in order to get the money it needs to avoid bankruptcy and a potential exit from the euro. The creditors also hinted that they would temper their demands for budget cuts — a welcome thought for austerity-weary Greeks who have seen poverty and unemployment spike as their economy shrank by a quarter over the recent crisis-ridden years. Easing up on austerity has been a key demand of Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 25 cents to $54.03 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract advanced 3 cents on Monday to close at $53.78. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 2 cents to $56.16 in London. It gained $23 cents on Monday to $56.18.
The dollar gained to 113.63 yen from Monday’s 113.37 yen. The euro declined to $1.0582 from $1.0609.