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Asia bourses subdued as year-end nears
From the Financial Times of Wed, 24 Dec 2014 03:28:14 GMT

Wednesday 02:30 GMT. Markets in Asia-Pacific were subdued as activity in many countries wound down for the holiday and end-of-year season, although stocks in Japan rallied following a record session for Wall Street.

The Nikkei was up 1.1 per cent as Japanese markets reopened after Tuesday’s national holiday.

Sony rose as much as 3.6 per cent after announcing that its Playstation streaming service will become available on some Samsung smart TVs next year. The Japanese electronics and entertainment group, at the heart of a geopolitical controversy over a film about a farcical plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, also said it will release the movie The Interview in select theatres on Christmas Day.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat and the Shanghai Composite was off 1.2 per cent, while Australia’s S&P ASX 200 added 0.3 per cent.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 equity index rose 0.2 per cent to a record closing high of 2,082 — its fifth successive daily gain — following news that US third-quarter GDP growth had been revised up to an annualised rate of 5 per cent.

The big upward revision also helped drive the dollar to its highest in more than eight years, with the dollar index, a gauge of the currency’s value against a weighted basket of peers, rising 0.4 per cent in New York to 90.09, its highest since March 2006.

The US GDP reading was the strongest in more than a decade, and a jump from the previous estimate of 3.9 per cent. The improvement was mainly due to the pace of consumption growth being revised up sharply.

Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, said: “It was another stellar day for US equities with a much better than expected revised GDP reading triggering the gains. This was the biggest gain since 2003 and this was enough to keep investors encouraged.”

Widespread expectations that the strengthening US economy could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next year were bolstered by the revision, though some analysts highlighted the backward-looking nature of the GDP data.

“It is indeed great news that the economy put in such solid, robust growth in the third quarter,” said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers. “Yet it’s not so clever that the outlook is reflecting weakness outside of the US economy and is a likely guarantee that the pace of growth in the fourth quarter will be less robust.

“For all the whooping about lower gas prices facing US consumers, the energy environment around the world provides a challenge to the growth outlook rather than a tailwind. Let’s hope that the hampered durable goods reading does not turn out to be a harbinger of gloom for the US economy into 2015. ”

In Asia trading, Brent, the global oil benchmark, was down 0.4 per cent at $61.47 a barrel. The price of gold was flat at $1177.95 per ounce.

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