Asia markets edge up as commodities rise, Apple fears ease

Agence France Presse

Posted at Dec 27 2017 04:51 PM | Updated as of Jan 02 2018 11:52 AM

HONG KONG - Asian markets edged upward Wednesday in thin trading after the Christmas break, as fears over lackluster iPhone demand eased and commodities rose.

Shares in Apple -- the biggest US company by market capitalization -- and its Asian suppliers had slumped Tuesday after a report in Taiwan's Economic Daily warned of weak demand for the iPhone X.

But that slide was arrested, with analysts suggesting media reports of supplier order cuts were "confusing the market".

Rosenblatt Securities analyst Jun Zhang said initial reports out of Taiwan likely only referred to previously announced iPhone 8 cuts, while a survey of mainland Chinese Apple suppliers found no order reductions, Bloomberg News reported.

Taiwan-based Apple suppliers Hon Hai Precision Tech -- better known as Foxconn -- and Catcher Technology rose Wednesday.

Tokyo and Hong Kong both rose by 0.1 percent while Taipei added 0.6 percent.

Seoul gained 0.4 percent after the announcement of a new policy aimed at encouraging trades on the junior tech-heavy Kosdaq market bolstered overall investor sentiment. 

But positive news was dampened by record losses at Hyundai Heavy -- the world's largest shipbuilder by sales -- which lost more than a quarter of its share value after announcing a plan to issue new stocks to shore up its ailing finances.

Shanghai fell 0.9 percent, dragged down by heavyweight financial and consumer liquor shares. Profit growth at China's major industrial firms slowed in the first 11 months of this year, according to new data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Elsewhere, oil-linked shares were boosted by crude prices that remained close to two-year highs, while copper hit a three-year high.

Oil prices in New York had jumped to a two-and-a-half year high Tuesday and briefly topped $60 a barrel due to a Libyan pipeline explosion and frigid weather in the US, before easing slightly Wednesday.

Saudi Arabian officials are forecasting their first budget surplus in a decade amid expectations of higher oil prices, Bloomberg News reported.

"Strength on oil and metals markets, along with strength in gold markets has futures pointing higher this morning," wrote Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader.

Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Manila all saw gains, while Sydney closed flat.

In early trade in Europe, London was up 0.1 percent, about 11 points short of its all time high. Frankfurt climbed 0.4 percent and Paris rose 0.3 percent.