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Asia follows Wall Street higher, upbeat US data lifts dollar vs yen

Asia stocks followed Wall Street higher on Wednesday, while the dollar firmed against the yen following the release of upbeat US economic data overnight.

Crude oil prices held large gains on expectations of supply tightening once oil-producing nations implement a scheduled output cut.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4%.

Australian stocks rode a rise in commodities to gain 1%. Indonesian shares added 1.9% while Shanghai shed 0.1%. Japan’s Nikkei was little changed.

US stocks had risen slightly on Tuesday, supported by upbeat consumer and housing data, with gains in technology shares lifting the Nasdaq Composite to a record close.

The dollar was 0.2% higher at 117.670 yen. It was lifted after previous day’s data showed US consumer confidence hitting its highest level in more than 15 years in December, in addition to robust housing numbers.

“Until data starts to turn negative or the headlines suggest that (US president-elect) Trump’s stimulus programme could fall short of expectations, the dips in the dollar will be shallow with the currency aiming for new highs,” wrote Kathy Lien, managing director of FX strategy for BK Asset Management.

“But at the first sign of bad news there could be massive correction in what is quickly becoming a crowded long dollar trade,” Lien added.

The dollar index was steady at 102.980. The euro inched up 0.1% to $1.0466 and sterling recovered most of the previous day’s losses to stand 0.2% higher at $1.2290.

US Treasury yields rose on Tuesday to one-week highs in response to the strong domestic data which reinforced hopes for a series of monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve next year.

In commodities, US crude was a touch lower at $53.81 a barrel after an overnight surge of 1.7%.

Oil has rallied into the year-end, albeit in thin trade, with support from expectations of tighter supply once the first output cut deal between OPEC and non-OPEC producers in 15 years takes effect on Sunday.

Firmer oil prices and upbeat US data helped support the wider commodity market. Copper on the London Metal Exchange was up 2% at $5,575.50 per tonne as trading resumed after the Christmas holidays.

Shanghai zinc and nickel prices were also pulled higher.

“There is strong positive sentiment on the outlook for these industrial metals going into 2017, and that’s what we’re seeing today,” said a Perth-based commodities trader. “Let’s see if this carries in to the main LME session later on.”

Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange extended gains after breaking a 9-day slump the previous day. It was last up 3.3% at 567.5 yuan ($81.60) per tonne.

The raw material has risen about 170% this year, boosted by expectations of Chinese stimulus. It has also benefited from hopes that the incoming Trump Administration will increase infrastructure spending.