Asia Holds Breath Ahead of Crucial U.S. Vote

Asia-Pacific markets remained wary after U.S. stocks rebounded Wednesday and oil and the dollar found near-term support.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan recovered from Wednesday’s trouncing, gaining 43.93 points, or 2.1%, to 19,041.38. Yesterday, the benchmark index closed sharply lower yesterday by 2%

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong eked higher 7.29 points to 24,327.70

Global markets stabilized after skidding a day earlier, though investors were on edge ahead of a vote on U.S. health care later Thursday that could be a barometer for future Trump administration policies.

Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong's richest man, had two of his flagship companies report earnings on Wednesday after the market closed. CK Hutchison's full year net profit was up 6% on-year, at HK$33.01 billion ($4.25 billion U.S.) while Cheung Kong Property posted a 16% rise to its full-year core profit. Shares of CK Hutchison rose 1.4% while Cheung Kong Property advanced 1.9%

Australian markets rose, underpinned by strength in its materials and energy sub-indexes. Miner BHP Billiton rose 1.13%, while Oil Search climbed 2.2%.

The U.S. dollar was trading at 99.654 against a basket of currencies mid-afternoon local time. Against the greenback, the yen traded at 111.18, strengthening for the eighth consecutive session.

CHINA

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 gathered 11.93 points, or 0.4%, to 3,461.98

Ping An Insurance Group, China's second-largest insurer by market value, said on Wednesday after market close that its annual net profit rose by 15% to 62.4 billion yuan ($9.06 billion U.S.) in line with analysts' expectations. The Hong-Kong listed insurer saw its shares rise 1.9% on Thursday.

Shares of Tencent were down 1.7%, after its fourth-quarter profit lagged estimates. The Chinese investment holding company said after the market closed on Wednesday that net profit for the three months to December rose 47% to 10.53 billion yuan ($1.53 billion U.S.) but a poll of analysts had expected 11.75 billion yuan.

In other markets

The Kospi Index in Korea moved up 4.42 points, or 0.2%, to 2,172.72

In Taiwan, the Taiex recouped 8.08 points, or 0.1%, to 9,930.74

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index picked up 8.74 points, or 0.3%, to 3,126.93

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained back 1.73 points to 7,062.55

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 regained 23.44 points, or 0.4%, to 5,707.95