By Kenan Machado
Investors betting semiconductor surge continues through 2018
Asia-Pacific stocks gains broadened Thursday, expanding upon rebounds for South Korean and Taiwanese companies, as indexes in China and Hong Kong also rose.
And bitcoin fell $1,000 in an hour in the middle of the morning $14,500, according to CoinDesk. Nearly 24 hours ago, the cryptocurrency was at around $16,500.
Chinese stocks started down slightly after underperforming Wednesday, but by late morning, indexes there were up about 0.5%.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6% as AAC Technologies (>> Aac Technologies Holdings Inc) and Sunny Optical (>> Sunny Optical Technology (Group) Co. Ltd) climbed 2.5% and 4%, respectively. They joined the rebound in other smartphone-related firms in the region.
Investors are betting that this year's surge in semiconductor demand carries through 2018, said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Bank.
Samsung Electronics (>> Samsung Electronics Co Ltd) and smaller chip maker SK Hynix (>> SK Hynix Inc) each rose more than 1% in South Korea on Thursday.
In Taiwan, Apple product assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry (>> Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd.) climbed 2% and Largan Precision (>> Largan Precision Co., Ltd.) -- which makes smartphone lenses -- rose 6.5%.
Korea's Kospi index and Taiwan's Taiex were recently up 0.6%.
Gains were smaller elsewhere in the region. That included Japan, New Zealand and Australia -- where benchmarks are attempting to set fresh record or multiyear closing highs.
In currencies, the U.S. dollar continued to drift, with analysts saying typical year-end demand for the currency from large firms has been lower. The WSJ Dollar Index, down the past three sessions, was recently off 0.1%, at its lowest level of the month.
The Australian dollar rebounded further, hitting fresh two-month highs against the U.S. dollar, aided by gains in commodity prices.
U.S. copper futures on Wednesday barely rose but still notched a 15th-straight gain, the longest streak since at least 1984, according to financial-data firm FactSet. Reports that China's largest producer, Jiangxi Copper, had been ordered to halt output for a week to curb pollution fueled recent gains.
"It seems increasingly likely that production cuts to protect the environment (in China) are going to be an ongoing feature of the metals-market landscape," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC. That should help support mining stocks and the Australian dollar, he added.
Oil futures turned slightly higher by late morning on the dollar's weakness in Asia, after prices pulled back overnight.