Asian stocks consolidated a recent run of gains on Wednesday, helped by Wall Street’s rise overnight, even as oil prices slid on trade data showing a surprise build-up in U.S. crude stocks.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.1 percent in early trades. It has risen more than 14 percent since late June to hit a 1-year high last week.
Futures prices showed Australian shares were poised to edge higher on Wednesday while New Zealand stocks slipped after a recent rally.
U.S. housing-related stocks jumped 2 percent after the Commerce Department reported new U.S. single-family home sales soared unexpectedly in July to near nine-year highs.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.88 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,547.3, the S&P 500 gained 4.26 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,186.9 and the Nasdaq Composite added 15.48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,260.08.
The upbeat housing data prompted markets to extend their search for further clues to whether the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates this year. Global central bankers gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later this week with investors focused on a speech by Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Friday.
The spike in new U.S. home sales pushed the dollar to 94.6 against a trade-weighted basket of currencies after a drop of more than 2 percent so far this month.
The Australian dollar looked set to add to recent gains as Australia’s relatively higher interest rates attracted overseas investors.
Oil prices tumbled on Wednesday, reversing early gains, after the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported U.S. crude on Tuesday that inventories rose by a surprising 4.5 million barrels last week.
Brent crude fell 0.6 percent to $49.65 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slipped 0.85 percent to $47.68 in early deals.