SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets crept higher Wednesday after Wall Street steadied and index compiler MSCI signaled Chinese shares will eventually be included in global benchmarks, a development that could attract more portfolio capital to the region.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.4 percent to 20,173.55 and South Korea's Kospi inched up 0.1 percent to 2,065.05. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.3 percent to 27,064.49 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.1 percent at 5,465.30. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China was flat at 5,112.73.
CHINA CALM: Global stock-index compiler MSCI Inc. said Chinese stocks will be included in its global benchmarks after a few issues related to market accessibility are resolved. After the result of the annual review was announced, the Shanghai benchmark opened slightly lower but soon recovered the loss. The benchmark has surged in the past few days, driven by the expectation that inclusion in MSCI indexes would spur more capital into Chinese markets. Expectations of new economic stimulus measures in China have also boosted Chinese stocks.
THE QUOTE: "Big news from the MSCI," IG market strategist Evan Lucas said in a commentary. "We have already seen a few excited investors buying into the news," he said. "However, there is no specific time as to when it will be added," Lucas said. "No doubt, this is a very exciting development."
SAMSUNG FATE: Shares of construction and trading firm Samsung C&T jumped 7 percent as U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates stepped up its efforts to thwart a proposed takeover by an affiliated company. Elliott filed an injunction with a Seoul court on Tuesday saying the takeover deal puts Samsung C&T at a significant discount. The hedge fund's move generated speculation that Samsung would do more to protect shareholder value.
WALL STREET: Wall Street closed little changed on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 picked up 0.87 of a point, a sliver of a percent, to finish at 2,080.15. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 2.51 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 17,764.04 while the Nasdaq composite lost 7.76 points, or 0.2 percent, to 5,013.87.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 62 cents to $60.76 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract jumped $2.00 to close at $60.14 a barrel in Nymex floor trading on Tuesday after an Energy Department monthly report predicted a decline in U.S. output later this year and next. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oil, rose 48 cents at $64.88 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 124.53 yen from 124.38 yen. The euro was little changed at $1.129.