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Asian shares rise after Wall Street gain on solid earnings

Asian shares were mostly higher Wednesday after a Wall Street rally driven by healthy earnings reports from U.S. companies.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.2% to 22,476.70, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.2% to 6,729.50. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was unchanged at 26,505.95, while the Shanghai Composite index lost 0.3% to 2,982.74.

South Korea's Kospi added 0.6% to 2,077.88 after the Bank of Korea announced it was cutting its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, to a record-low 1.25%.

An investor presses his forehead in front of an electronic board displaying stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Asian shares were higher Wednesday after a gain on Wall Street boosted by healthy earnings reports from U.S. companies. (AP PhotoAndy Wong)

Shares also rose in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia. India's Sensex added 0.1%.

Stocks notched solid gains on Wall Street on Tuesday as investors welcomed surprisingly good quarterly results from some of the nation's biggest companies.

Strong earnings from UnitedHealth Group, JPMorgan Chase and other companies helped power the market's broad gains, erasing modest losses from a day earlier.

An investor sits near an electronic board displaying stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. Asian shares were higher Wednesday after a gain on Wall Street boosted by healthy earnings reports from U.S. companies. (AP PhotoAndy Wong)

Investors are looking to the wave of quarterly report cards due out over the next few weeks to give them a clearer picture of what impact the trade war between the U.S. and China is having on corporate profits and the broader economy.

"Global market sentiment was seen picking up a notch overnight with Wall Street gaining on earnings despite the uncertainty that persists on U.S.-China trade," said Jingyi Pan, market strategist with IG in Singapore.

"Breaking news of China threatening to retaliate if U.S. passes the Hong Kong bill and the IMF's latest downgrading of the global growth forecast appear to be doing little to the trading action so far this morning, but remain items highlighting the uncertainty in outlook."

The encouraging earnings reports came with a spate of surprisingly good forecasts for the rest of the year, which helped ease concerns about a slowdown due to the costly trade conflict.

The S&P 500 index climbed 1% to 2,995.68. The benchmark index is now 1% below its all-time high set in July.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.9% to 27,024.80, while the Nasdaq gained 1.2% to 8,148.71. Small-company stocks also bounced back after leading the decline a day earlier. The Russell 2000 index picked up 1.2% to 1,523.30.

On Friday, the U.S. agreed to suspend a planned hike in tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods that had been set to kick in Tuesday. Beijing, meanwhile, agreed to buy $40 billion to $50 billion in U.S. farm products.

The U.S. did not, however, cancel plans for more tariffs in December and the sticking points of intellectual property and trade secrets still hang over the dispute.

ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil rose 12 cents to $52.93 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 78 cents to $52.81 a barrel Tuesday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, rose 14 cents to $58.88 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 108.66 Japanese yen from 108.85 yen on Tuesday. The euro strengthened to $1.1031 from $1.1029.

AP Business Writers Alex Veiga and Damian J. Troise contributed to this report.