Asian shares up as oil prices fall, US stocks rise

Asian stock markets rose Wednesday, encouraged by falling oil prices and an overnight climb on Wall Street.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average jumped 1 percent to 10,633.46.
Boosting sentiment was the latest data on machinery orders, which rose 4.2 percent in January from the previous month. The result beat Kyodo news agency’s average market forecast of a 2.9 percent increase.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.6 percent to 23,852.8, the Shanghai Composite index rose 0.2 percent to 3,006.40, and South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.2 percent at 2,000.09. Benchmarks in Taiwan and New Zealand advanced, while those in Australia and Singapore fell.

In New York on Tuesday, financial companies pushed stock indexes higher on signs that banks may soon raise their dividends.

Lower oil prices also helped stocks move higher. Oil prices retreated after Kuwait’s oil minister said that OPEC members are in informal talks about raising oil output as the conflict in Libya continues.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 124.35 points, or 1 percent, to 12,214.38.

The broader S&P 500 rose 11.69, or 0.9 percent, to 1,321.82. Financial stocks in the S&P 500 index rose 2.2 percent, the most of any of the index’s 10 company groups. The Nasdaq composite rose 20.14, or 0.7 percent, to 2,765.77.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 82.84 yen from 82.65 yen late Tuesday. The euro stood at $1.3891 from $1.3903.

Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 46 cents to $104.56 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 42 cents to settle at $105.02 a barrel Tuesday.