Asia markets were modestly higher in early trade, after U.S. equities rose higher on the back of a strong consumer confidence survey with markets awaiting the formal move by the U.K. to start an historic split with the European Union.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.15 percent in early trade.
Toshiba‘s U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse is set to file for U.S. bankruptcy, in a bid to limit losses for the Japanese conglomerate. Shares of Toshiba were down 0.23 percent at 216 yen per stock, and more than 22 percent lower since the start of the year.
The Australian benchmark ASX 200 was up 0.6 percent amid early reports surfaced of the damage along northeast Australia in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.
Tourist resorts along the world-famous Great Barrier Reef and mainland coastal areas were belted with wind gusts stronger than 260 km per hour (160 mph) and there were reports of significant structural damage to homes and public infrastructure, Reuters reported.
In South Korea, the Kospi index added 0.21 percent.
Electronics giant Samsung Electronics shares were up 0.58 percent. It is expected to launch Galaxy S8 smartphone in New York later in the day, and in South Korea tomorrow.
U.S. markets rose on Tuesday, after the Consumer Board Consumer Confidence Index hit 125.6, up from 116.1 in February, and the strongest reading since 2001.
The Dow Jones industrial average snapped its eighth day losing streak to jump 0.73 percent to 20,701.5, the S&P 500 rose 0.73 percent to close at 2,358.57 and the Nasdaq composite added 0.6 percent to finish at 5,875.14.
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May signed the official letter to the European Council President Donald Tusk to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The letter once delivered to Tusk on Wednesday at 12:30 BST, will then begin the official two-year process of the U.K. leaving the bloc.
“The triggering of Article 50 is unlikely to create an immediate sea of change,” said Tim Riddell, director at Westpac Institutional Bank, in a Wednesday note.
“This is the start of the beginning of the negotiations. Once initial bargaining position details start to ping between EU and U.K. and are dissected by the media and markets, the enormity of the task ahead may start to weigh confidence and markets,” he explained.
The Scottish parliament on Tuesday backed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s bid for a new independence referendum, to be held in 2018 or 2019. The proposal was immediately rejected by the by the British government.
Japan’s Keidanren, a business group whose membership includes Toyota, Hitachi and other large Japanese investors in the U.K., is preparing a communiqué taking issue with May’s “no Brexit deal is better than a bad deal.”
The pound was steady at $1.2384 at 8:15 am HK/SIN.
In the broader currency index, the dollar was stronger at 99.742 against a basket of currencies, above yesterday’s lows at 98.858 but still weaker compared to levels above 100 last week. The dollar/yen was trading at 111.12 and the Australian dollar fetched $0.7643.
Oil prices jumped on Tuesday during U.S. hours, after Libya supply was cut by a third due to armed faction action. Brent crude settled up 1.14 percent at $51.33 a barrel, and U.S. crude jumped 1.34 percent higher at $48.37.