Asian shares edge up, dollar off highs

Asian shares edge up, dollar off highs

Seoul: Asian shares edged higher on Wednesday led by a spurt in Australian stocks to a three-week high, while the US dollar came off highs as traders digested recent steep gains.

Oil prices ticked higher amid expectations in a Reuters poll that US weekly inventory data will show a draw down in crude stocks of nearly 1 million barrels, but the dollar’s rally is keeping a lid on the market’s upside potential.

The US dollar hit a two-month high of 91.86 yen in early Asia trade, before edging back. But the currency remains in demand even after jumping more than 8% in less than a month against the Japanese currency.

Australian stocks rose as much as 0.8% to a three-week high, helped by miners such as BHP Billiton Ltd, pushing the MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks traded outside Japan up by 0.2%.

In Australia, Gloucester Coal jumped more than 25% higher after rival Macarthur Coal offered to buy the company in an all-share deal for $591 million. The shares resumed trading on Wednesday after being halted a day earlier pending the bid.

Key stock indexes in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea were all modestly higher on the day. Tokyo’s stock market was closed for the Emperor’s birthday holiday, dampening activity in the region.

Spot gold was quoted $1,086.65 an ounce at 8:00am, bouncing back after touching a seven-week low of $1,074.10 in New York trade overnight.