Asian shares were mostly higher taking their cue from the latest record highs on Wall Street. Strong earnings growth has supported major stock indexes this year, and some analysts said they expect third-quarter results to continue to outperform expectations. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve signaled its confidence that the U.S. economy was strong enough to support further rate increases. “The Fed minutes indicated a positive outlook on the U.S. economy. That augurs well for global growth,” said Alex Wijaya, head of Southeast Asia for Axicorp Financial Services. Minutes from the Fed’s latest policy meeting, released Wednesday, showed most officials expect the central bank to raise short-term interest rates again this year. That helped alleviate signs of rate uncertainty in the market, said Wijaya.
Chinese investors are holding back ahead of a key communist party meeting next week. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.5 % in early trading to 20,988.06. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2 % to 5,785.10. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3 % to 2,464.88. Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.2 % to 28,464.38, while the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.2 % to 3,382.49. The S&P 500 index gained 0.2 % to 2,555.24. The Dow also rose 0.2 %, to 22,872.89, and the Nasdaq composite climbed 0.2 % to 6,603.55. Japan's Nikkei 225 index has closed at 21 year highs over the past few days, lifted by optimism over the latest economic data and anticipation of strong corporate results in the upcoming quarterly reporting period.
Expectations are rising that an Oct. 22 nationwide election for the more powerful lower house of Parliament will reinforce a strong majority for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democrats, who favor tax cuts for corporations. Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 26 cents to $51.04 a barrel. It rose 38 cents to $51.30 a barrel overnight in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 31 cents to $56.63 a barrel in London. The dollar rose to 112.41 yen from 112.26 yen. The euro rose to $1.1874 from $1.1819.