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Apple, global economic data fuel Asia gains

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Strong results from Apple and a fifth straight record close on Wall Street helped fuel further gains for key Asian markets Wednesday, with sentiment also boosted by benign world economic data.

Traders took heart from the iPhone maker’s better-than-expected results for the past quarter as well as accelerating eurozone growth and upbeat Chinese manufacturing figures.

Higher revenues and profits at Apple helped trigger fresh buying in Tokyo as a range of Japanese companies supply components for the California-based firm’s smartphone and other devices.

The Nikkei ended 0.5 percent up, with Seoul also in positive territory for the day and Hong Kong gaining in afternoon trade. Shanghai drifted lower after closing at a 2017 record Tuesday as investors took profits.

Sydney stocks slid with banks and commodities ending down, before mining giant Rio Tinto reported a 93 percent jump in its first-half net profit.

“Equities… continue to flourish as earning reports drive stocks to new highs,” said Stephen Innes, who heads Asia-Pacific trading at Oanda

“The Dow reached a new-all time high for a fifth consecutive session, nibbling at the key 22k mark.”

New York’s blue-chip index reached new heights on strong US earnings, but US economic data was mixed.

– Dollar pressures –

A key measure of US inflation was flat in June for the second straight month, while the annual rate declined.

Manufacturing activity continued to expand in July, but at a slightly slower pace than in June, according to the Institute for Supply Management.

The greenback, which has come under sustained pressure from continued political instability in Washington, rebounded against the yen with the Japanese unit trading at around 110.7 to the dollar in Tokyo.

The Australian dollar, whose recent strength against its US counterpart has prompted concern from the central bank over the impact to the economy, edged below 80 US cents.

But analysts warned pressure on the greenback would continue.

“The US political crater and lack of fiscal stimulus from Washington will continue to be the primary catalyst for dollar declines,” Innes added.

“While the market is cautious about a possible USD risk reversal, searching for the key triggers (is) like looking for a black cat in a coal cellar.”

The rally in oil prices, which had seen WTI crude top $50 a barrel for the first time since May, went into reverse Wednesday after data from industry group API showed a surprise increase in US crude stocks, as traders awaited an official US inventory report later in the day.

“People are really beginning to realise that the market probably needs a steady beat of bullish information to continue to rally,” said Gene McGillian, market research manager at Tradition Energy.

“If we don’t get a really positive inventory report this week, the market is vulnerable to a nice little turnaround,” he said.

In early European trade, London and Paris fell while Frankfurt advanced.

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