Asia Markets: Tech stocks lead recovery in Asian markets

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Asia-Pacific stocks gains broadened Thursday, expanding upon rebounds for South Korean and Taiwanese companies, as indexes in China and Hong Kong also rose.

And bitcoin BTCUSD, -3.90%   fell $1,000 in an hour in the middle of the morning $14,500, according to CoinDesk. Nearly 24 hours ago, the cryptocurrency was at around $16,500.

Chinese stocks started down slightly after underperforming Wednesday, but by late morning, indexes there were up about 0.5%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng HSI, +0.57%   rose 0.6% as AAC Technologies 2018, +2.77%   and Sunny Optical 2382, +4.48%   climbed 2.5% and 4%, respectively. They joined the rebound in other smartphone-related firms in the region.

Investors are betting that this year’s surge in semiconductor demand carries through 2018, said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Bank.

Samsung Electronics 005930, +2.47%   and smaller chip maker SK Hynix 000660, +1.33%   each rose more than 1% in South Korea on Thursday.

In Taiwan, Apple product assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry 2317, +2.17%   climbed 2% and Largan Precision 3008, +5.91%   — which makes smartphone lenses — rose 6.5%.

Korea’s Kospi index SEU, +0.82%   and Taiwan’s Taiex Y9999, +0.51%   were recently up 0.6%.

Gains were smaller elsewhere in the region. That included Japan NIK, +0.10%  , New Zealand NZ50GR, +0.38%   and Australia XJO, +0.14%   — where benchmarks are attempting to set fresh record or multiyear closing highs.

In currencies, the U.S. dollar continued to drift, with analysts saying typical year-end demand for the currency from large firms has been lower. The WSJ Dollar Index, down the past three sessions, was recently off 0.1%, at its lowest level of the month.

The Australian dollar rebounded further, hitting fresh two-month highs against the U.S. dollar, aided by gains in commodity prices.

U.S. copper futures on Wednesday barely rose but still notched a 15th-straight gain, the longest streak since at least 1984, according to financial-data firm FactSet. Reports that China’s largest producer, Jiangxi Copper, had been ordered to halt output for a week to curb pollution fueled recent gains.

“It seems increasingly likely that production cuts to protect the environment (in China) are going to be an ongoing feature of the metals-market landscape,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC. That should help support mining stocks and the Australian dollar, he added.

Oil futures turned slightly higher by late morning on the dollar’s weakness in Asia, after prices pulled back overnight.