Asia-Pacific Stocks Struggle to Post Gains, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Ends at 29,717.83 bps
Asia-Pacific markets followed wall street and drifted to higher levels on Friday, taking cues from the west where U.S. stocks had climbed to record highs overnight.
Australian shares rose as the ASX 200 added 0.79%, or 52.9 points, to 6,766.80 as most sectors finished higher. Energy and materials sub-indices gained 1.47% and 1.62%, respectively as shares of oil stocks and major miners mostly advanced.
The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.73%, or 506.19 points, to 29,717.83 on Friday. The Topix index finished up 1.36%, or 26.14 points, at 1,951.06.
South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.35%, or 40.69 points, to 3,054.39 as tech shares gained: Samsung Electronics was up 0.98%, SK Hynix rose 2.19% and LG Electronics added 3.39%. Elsewhere, the Kosdaq gained 1.93%, or 17.48 points, to 925.49.
Chinese mainland shares reversed earlier losses and closed higher: The Shanghai composite rose 0.47%, or 16.25 points, to 3,453.08 and the Shenzhen component added 0.22%, or 30.66 points, to 13,897.03.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled 2.2 per cent to 28,739.72 at the close of trading, the most in two weeks. The benchmark fell 1.2 per cent for the week. The CSI 300 Index of the biggest stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen gained 0.4 per cent. The gauge ended the week with a 2.2 per cent loss, a fourth straight week of setback.
Overnight, the S&P 500 advanced 1% and hit a new closing high, surpassing its previous record from Feb. 16, while a rebound in tech shares resumed.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans.
Elsewhere, the European Central Bank said it expects to increase bond purchases significantly next quarter. Bond yields in the euro zone have been ticking higher since February, in line with the yield on U.S. Treasury notes.
Investors in Asia were similarly worried that rising bond yields could derail the economic recovery in Europe by increasing the borrowing costs for countries that are already struggling with the coronavirus crisis.
Asian Markets Currencies and Oil
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar rose 0.33% to 91.722 against a basket of its peers on Friday afternoon during Asia trading hours. The gauge rose from an earlier low of 91.400 but still fell short of climbing to levels above 92 reached earlier in the week.
The Japanese yen changed hands at 108.98 per dollar, weakening from around 108.48, while the Australian dollar fell 0.44% to $0.7753.
Oil prices slipped during Friday afternoon trade in Asia, the U.S. crude was down 0.7% at $65.56 a barrel while global benchmark Brent dropped 0.6% to $69.21.
Overnight, energy prices jumped more than 2% — a weaker greenback and the prospect of stimulus measures in the United States boosted sentiment in the commodity market, according to some analysts. Falling crude inventories and expectations that a supply glut will ease also helped sentiment.
“Crude oil extended recent gains amid further signs the recovery in fuel consumption is continuing to strengthen,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note, adding that a full recovery remained some way off.