Asia stocks rise on heels of new Dow record high

Asia stocks rise on heels of new Dow record high

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets mostly gained Wednesday on the heels of a record high on Wall Street as traders waited for the latest Federal Reserve meeting minutes for insight into the U.S. economy's prospects.

Japan's stock market continued to rise on a wave of enthusiasm for the Bank of Japan's aggressive new approach to shaking the world's third-largest economy out of its two decade slump. The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo rose 0.7 percent to 13,289.30.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent to 21,954.31. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.8 percent to 1,935.54. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.3 percent to 4,962.90.

Investors are looking to the release later in the day of a transcript of last month's Federal Reserve policy meeting for insights into the Fed's latest views on the health of the U.S. economy.

"Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said this week that while the U.S. economy was significantly stronger than it was four years ago, it has yet to recover back to an acceptable state of health," said analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore.

Corporate earnings also will draw attention later in the week, when banks Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase report.

Wall Street stocks ended higher Monday, as investors waited to see whether big U.S. companies would deliver on expectations of strong earnings in 2013. The Dow Jones industrial average hit another record Tuesday, rising 0.4 percent to close at 14,673.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 0.4 percent, to 1,568.61. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.5 percent to 3,237.86.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 23 cents to $93.96 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 84 cents to finish at $94.20 a barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3086 from $1.3099 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 98.95 yen from 99.28 yen.

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