By Kenan Machado
Asian stocks rose early Wednesday, helped by a rally in tech and consumer stocks overnight in the U.S.'s first trading day of 2018.
The Nasdaq Composite jumped 1.5%, with Apple climbing 1.8%. That helped Samsung surge 2% shortly after the opening bell in South Korea on Wednesday before it pulled back. Seoul's Kospi index gained 0.2%.
Taiwan, where many Apple suppliers are based, was the best-performing stock market early Wednesday with the Taiex climbing another 0.8% to hit a fresh five-week high. Largan Precision and Taiwan Semiconductor each rose more than 1%, adding to Tuesday's gains.
The start-of-2018 optimism in Asian stocks, which builds on broad strength as 2017 concluded, comes with earnings season around the corner which could prove pivotal for this year's performance for equities.
"Markets are going to want to see a sort of reporting season that acts as a springboard for 2018," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
New Zealand stocks were modestly higher in afternoon trading there, with the benchmark NZX-50 rising 0.4% in its first trading day of 2018 following a truncated session Friday and a four-day weekend. If it closes up, the benchmark will begin the year with a fresh record closing high.
Aviation-related names were leading, with Air New Zealand up 0.6% and Auckland International Airport rising 1.7%.
Japanese markets will start trading on Thursday following the holiday break there.
Meanwhile, mining stocks continued to support Australia's benchmark as consumer and health stocks ticked lower. The S&P/ASX 200 was 0.1% higher, with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto adding more than 2% each to hit fresh multiyear highs as metals prices benefit from a weaker dollar.
The Wall Street Journal Dollar Index was steady Wednesday morning in Asia after notching a seventh day lower on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, bitcoin has maintained its overnight rebound to $15,000, according to price data from CoinDesk. The cryptocurrency briefly fell below $13,000 in Asian trading Tuesday. The rebound came amid news that Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Founders Fund has made a big bullish bet on bitcoin.
Write to Kenan Machado at [email protected]