Asia Mostly Higher; Yuan Strengthens

Most Asian shares closed higher on Tuesday as markets shrugged off the softer close on Wall Street.

The Nikkei 225 index spiked 132.8 points, or 0.6%, to 20,823.51, after markets reopened for trade following a long weekend. The index had touched a fresh two-year high earlier in the session.

The Hang Seng Index hiked 164.24 points, or 0.6%, to 28.490.83

Trading houses and financial names declined, while automakers and tech stocks were mixed: Toyota closed up 1.6% Mazda Motor slid 1.3% and Sony finished down 0.7%.

In Japan, Kobe Steel saw its shares plummet after the company admitted to falsifying data on its products to indicate it met specifications requested by customers. Shares of the company closed down 21.9%.

Japan's current account surplus for August came in at 2.38 trillion yen ($21.12 billion U.S.) That was above the 2.26 trillion yen estimated by economists.

Korean markets surged as blue-chip tech plays notched robust gains on optimism about profit expectations. Samsung Electronics rallied 3% and SK Hynix finished up 7%

Australian markets tailed off with a 0.8% decline in the energy sub-index leading losses on the broader index.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 was up 7.65 points, or 0.2%, to 3,889.86

The yuan firmed against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday after China's central bank raised the yuan midpoint to 6.6273 a dollar, above the 6.6493 midpoint on Monday. This was reportedly the first time the reference point was set higher since Sept. 22. The on-shore yuan traded at 6.5956 to the dollar late in the afternoon, while the offshore yuan traded at 6.5848 to the U.S. dollar.

The yuan's climb higher was the driving force behind the broader dollar selloff. With the 19th party congress due to begin in China on Oct. 18, the central bank was likely attempting to provide "overriding stability" in the market and a better platform to encourage foreign investment into China, he added.

Other Asian currencies also followed the yuan's lead to strengthen against the greenback, with the U.S. dollar last shedding 0.2% against the Singapore dollar.

In corporate news, the chief executive of Fiat Chrysler said he wasn't certain if a merger with Great Wall Motor was the right solution.The Chinese automaker had expressed interest in acquiring the company in August. Shares of Great Wall traded in Hong Kong were off 0.6%.

In economic news, China foreign exchange reserves increased by $17 billion U.S. in September to $3.109 trillion, Reuters said, citing data from the People's Bank of China. The eighth consecutive monthly rise in the country's forex reserves was attributed by Reuters to strict capital outflow regulations and a firmer yuan.

In other markets

Markets in Taiwan were closed for the 10-10 Holiday.

In Korea, the Kospi index gained 39.34 points, or 1.6%, to 2,433.81

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index dropped 2.61 points, or 0.1%, to 3,288.95

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 27.53 points, or 0.3%, to 8,037.81

In Australia, the ASX 200 slid 1.15 points to 5,738.11