The Nikkei Index reached a seven-month high on Wednesday, with exporters gaining on a weaker Yen, while the share prices of brokerage firms also climbed on the back of investor expectations that a cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will give new energy to his growth-oriented policies.
Shares on mainland China climbed for a fourth straight trading session on Wednesday, boosted by the services purchasing managers' index (PMI) which jumped in August, its strongest showing in 17-months, while the official non-manufacturing PMI also rose, with the Hang Seng Index following suit and scoring its best rise in six weeks.
According to Reuters, European markets are expected to open flat to slightly firmer on Wednesday, with shares trading within a range ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting later this week, with investors divided on whether the ECB will reveal more stimulus measures to avoid deflation.
The Reuters website reports that U.S. markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday despite the release of strong manufacturing data, with energy-related shares falling on a stronger US Dollar, as well as softer crude oil prices on the back of slowing demand for oil in China and Europe, while oversupply concerns also dragged Brent crude oil futures to their lowest price since 31 May 2013.
The Business Day website reports that the JSE All Share Index closed firmer on Tuesday with the share price of Firstrand rallying on the back of a well-received trading statement with its earnings rising by 22%, while diversified mining shares were also in demand despite a stronger US Dollar that pushed commodity prices lower.
The Rand was last trading weaker at R10.7209 against the US Dollar, with the Euro quoted at R14.0874, but the British Pound was quoted firmer at R17.6356.
The gold price traded near its lowest level in two-and-a-half months in Singapore on Wednesday, struggling to recover from steep overnight losses on the back of a stronger US Dollar, as well as robust U.S. economic data. Gold was last trading lower at $1,268.30, with the platinum price at $1,407.25, while the palladium price was last trading at the $882.00 level.
Brent was last trading much lower at $100.78 a barrel.