MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday, with investors focused on Thursday's vote on Britain's possible withdrawal from the European Union and after relief over U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's statement that the Fed would remain cautious in raising interest rates.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 1 percent to 16,002.60 while China's Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.4 percent to 2,891.03. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up 0.3 percent to 20,730.25. Australia's S&P ASX 200 edged up 0.1 percent at to 5,281.60. South Korea's KOSPI was up 0.4 percent at 1,990.07. Southeast Asian markets were mostly up.
ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "We still have three polls on UK referendum before the vote, and another shift back to 'Brexit' will see risk appetite disappear in a jiffy," said Bernard Aw, IG market strategist, as the polls showed "remain" with a slight lead over "leave" sentiment. "Despite a positive performance in the overnight markets, Asia will continue to trade cautiously."
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks rose Tuesday as investors were relieved to hear Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen say the Fed would remain cautious in raising interest rates. Stocks hardly budged for most of the day as investors were occupied by Yellen's Congressional appearance and the looming vote on Britain's possible withdrawal from the European Union. For the second day in a row, stocks traded higher and bond prices fell as investors felt a bit surer that Britain will stay in the EU. The Dow Jones industrial average picked up 24.86 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,829.73. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 5.65 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,088.90. The Nasdaq composite added 6.55 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,843.76.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 19 cents to $50.04 a barrel in New York. On Tuesday, it fell 52 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.85 a barrel. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, was also up 15 cents to $50.77 a barrel in London. On Tuesday, it slipped 3 cents to $50.62 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 104.45 yen from 104.76 yen the previous day. The euro rose to $1.1271 from $1.1251 on Tuesday.