Asia markets edge up as commodities rise, Apple fears ease


Hong Kong (AFP)

Asian markets edged upward Wednesday in thin holiday trading, with investors shrugging off a negative Wall Street lead as fears over lacklustre iPhone demand eased, and commodities rose.

Shares in Apple, the biggest US company by market capitalisation, had slumped 2.5 percent Tuesday, mirroring a move by its Asian suppliers, after a report in Taiwan's Economic Daily warned of weak demand for the iPhone X.

But that slide was arrested in early trading Wednesday, with Taiwan-based Apple suppliers Catcher Technology, Largan Precision and Hon Hai Precision Tech -- better known as Foxconn -- all rising.

"Selling of high tech shares is limited as the Apple news has already been factored in," Toshikazu Horiuchi, a broker at Japan's IwaiCosmo Securities told AFP.

Hong Kong rose 0.2 percent and Tokyo was up 0.1 percent, while Taipei added 0.5 percent.

Shanghai was trading flat, as profit growth at China's major industrial firms slowed in the first 11 months of this year, Xinhua reported, citing the National Bureau of Statistics.

Seoul was down 0.2 percent as Hyundai Heavy, the world's number two shipbuilder, suffered major losses after announcing a share sale to raise operating funds.

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 in early Wednesday trade.

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

"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.

- Key figures around 0300 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 22,909.32 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 29,626.90

Shanghai - Composite: FLAT at 3,306.26

Euro/dollar: $1.1866

Pound/dollar: $1.3377

Dollar/yen: 113.25 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 24 cents at $59.73 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 34 cents at $66.68

New York - DOW: FLAT at 24,746.48 (close)

London - FTSE 100: 7,592.66 (close)