Asia Gains as U.S. Dollar Languishes

Asian stocks closed with moderate gains on Wednesday, tracking sizable increases seen on Wall Street overnight as the U.S. dollar traded near three-month lows.

Markets in Japan remained closed for the New Year Holiday. Against the Japanese yen, the U.S. dollar was steady at 112.36.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong acquired 45.64 points, or 0.2%, to 30,560.95, with technology shares continuing their ascent. Apple supplier AAC Technologies rose 2.1% and heavyweight Tencent tacked on 1.1%

Korean markets found their way up, as large cap technology names extended the moderate gains seen last session. Heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix closed up 1.2% and 1.4%, respectively.

Steel plays were also higher, with blue-chip Posco jumping 5.5% and Hyundai Steel rising 2.6% by the end of the session.

Hyundai Heavy Industries soared 8.8%after the South Korean shipbuilder announced it was aiming for 7.99 trillion won ($7.52 billion U.S.) in sales this year. Hyundai Heavy shares had plunged last week when it unveiled plans to list its Hyundai Oilbank subsidiary. Shares of other shipbuilders also jumped, with Daewoo Shipbuilding rising 12.1% on the day.

The Korean won gave up some gains after touching a more than three-year high against the U.S. dollar in the last session. On Wednesday, the currency traded at 1,063.52 won to the dollar after strengthening as much as 1,058.97 in the last session.

Earlier, the head of South Korea's central bank told reporters that he was looking at movements in the currency "very closely”. The country would be looking at ways to increase capital outflows if its currency continued to strengthen, Reuters said, citing sources.

Australian markets moved up, as mining stocks led the index higher. Rio Tinto and BHP, the country's two-largest miners, closed up 2.2% and 1.7% respectively. Gold producers were a mixed bag, but traded higher on the whole, with the S&P/ASX All Ords Gold sub-index rising 1.2% by the end of the day.


In Shanghai, the CSI 300 picked up 23.99 points, or 0.6%, to 4,111.39. The telecommunications, technology and utilities sectors led gains

A high-profile proposed merger between U.S.-based MoneyGram International and Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial Services Group has fallen through after the companies failed to obtain regulatory approval. A joint statement from the companies said Ant Financial has paid a $30-million termination fee to MoneyGram following the termination

In other markets

The Kospi in Korea gained 6.7 points, or 0.3%, to 2,486.35

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index hiked 90.84 points, or 0.9%, to 10,810.57

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index added 33.98 points, or 1%, to 3,464.28

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 returned from a long weekend to gain 26.83 points, or 0.3%, to begin the New Year at 8,424.91

In Australia, the ASX 200 recovered 9.1 points, or 0.2%, to 6,070.38