Hong Kong: Asian stocks rose on Wednesday, led by gains in tech shares after Apple Inc unveiled results that blew past Wall Street’s expectations, while the euro struggled as worries mounted about debt-stricken Greece.
Tech-heavy markets such as Japan, Taiwan and South Korea were among the region’s best performers as Apple’s earnings report and strong sales forecast bolstered views that consumer demand is recovering.
Apple’s shares surged more than 5% to an all-time high of $257.30 in after-hours trade.
Before Apple released its numbers, US stocks rose by as much as 0.8% in the regular session as higher oil prices lifted energy shares and as investors saw generally stronger company results as sign that the global economy is recovering.
The generally upbeat sentiment about demand sparked a rally in commodities and global growth-linked currencies such as the Australian dollar which firmed to $0.9316 from $0.9288 on Tuesday.
“If people are going out and buying iPhones, Macs and iPads the hope is the US consumer is going to start consuming again,” said Andrew Sullivan, a sales trader with broker MainFirst Securities, adding this was also boosting shares of big exporters.
“That probably means the recent trend of increased US savings is possibly not as strong as people had worried about,” he said, referring to fears that the US economic recovery may be shaky until shoppers started hitting the stores again.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan rose 0.9%, with the regional tech index up 1.6%.
Industrial shares and raw materials stocks were the other outperformers on signs of stronger demand, gaining nearly 1%.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei average edged past its key 25-day moving average as chip-related stocks like Toshiba Corp leapt, while the yen’s decline against the dollar helped the export sector in general. Toshiba gained nearly 3%.
The Japanese yen was subdued at 93.15 per dollar, after falling to a low of 93.40 on Tuesday, when it dropped 0.8%.
The yen, which tends to gain in times of greater aversion, had risen to a near one-month high of 91.58 per dollar earlier this week as global stocks retreated on concerns that they had risen too far, too fast in recent sessions.
The euro edged down to $1.3422, from $1.3443 late in New York on Tuesday, when it fell 0.3%.
Sentiment towards the euro remained bearish with Greek sovereign debt spreads continuing to blow out against German bunds to record highs.
Greek borrowing costs hit a 12-year high on Tuesday as Athens prepared to launch talks on an EU/IMF bailout package aimed at rescuing Greece from a debt crisis rocking the euro zone.
Ten days of talks will begin on Wednesday on the belt-tightening measures Greece must take until 2012, the European Commission said, paving the way for the swift payout of up to 30 billion euros of euro zone emergency aid if Athens asks for it.
The yield spread between Greek and German 10-year bonds widened to a record 489 basis points from 468 bps on Monday, according to Tradeweb.
Oil rose 50 cents to top $84 a barrel, buoyed by optimism about the global economic recovery and an unexpected drop in US fuel inventories. Front-month US crude futures have rebounded almost 5% in the last few sessions.