Asian stocks were mostly higher Wednesday after U.S. financial markets returned from a holiday and notched a second day of gains. Japan shares rose a third day as the government released its machinery orders report.
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 percent, South Korea's KOSPI 0.3 percent and Singapore's STI 1.4 percent. Australia's ASX 200 slipped 0.1 percent.
Japan shares rose after a government report showed companies ordered less than expected machinery in December but were expecting to pick up the pace this quarter, according to Reuters. Weaker than expected GDP data released Monday already spurred speculation. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Bank of Japan President Haruhiko Kuroda would have to step up stimulus measures, triggering the current run-up in stocks. The Bank of Japan had already decided to lower interest rates to below zero to spur lending, a decision that took effect Tuesday.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.4 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 1.7 percent and the Nasdaq Composite rose 2.3 percent. Speculation that Saudi Arabia and Russia would cut oil production to boost prices fueled stocks gains early in the day, but stocks continued to rise even as the speculation fizzled and oil slumped.
"I take it as extremely positive news that the U.S. market is rallying on a day that crude is down," Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said, Reuters reported. "We may be finally breaking that toxic correlation that we’ve been seeing that has been turning the entire financial world on its head.”
Another analyst was more guarded.
"I think you can make a case that a lot of stocks are oversold, and therefore, they should be drawing some buyers from the sidelines," Reuters quoted Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama, as saying. "The question is if we can sustain this rally for several days."