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Asian stocks rise after S&P’s record close


Asian stock exchange

Asian stock exchange

A RECORD high finish on Wall Street delivered a boost to Asian stocks early Friday.

Overnight, US major indexes rallied one percent higher each on the back of calmer bond markets and a weaker dollar. The S&P 500 set a new closing record of 2121 after a 1 percent surge. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 1 and 1.4 percent, respectively, to come within 50 points of their record highs.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rebounded from the previous day’s close, which was at the lowest in nearly one week, as the yen ticked up 0.1 percent to 119.27. The fall in dollar-yen on Thursday, sparked by the selloff in bonds, sent jitters through the equity market and led the Tokyo bourse down 1 percent.

But a few sharp downward moves warranted attention; Nikon plunged more than 11 percent after reporting a first-profit drop, while Sharp opened down 1 percent after announcing that it has secured a $1.7 billion bailout from banks, marking its second major rescue in three years. The loss-making electronics giant will also embark on further restructuring that includes a 10 percent cut of its global workforce.

Another laggard was airbag maker Takata, which slumped more than 4 percent as Honda recalled an additional 4.89 million cars equipped with faulty airbags on Thursday.

Australia’s S&P ASX 200 index advanced in early trade to hit a seven-day high, as an impressive lead from the US helped to offset the impact of a strengthening Australian dollar.

Major banks got off to a positive start, except for National Australia Bank which tanked 2.1 percent as it begins trading ex-dividend on Friday. Australia and New Zealand Banking and Commonwealth Bank of Australia notched up nearly 1 percent each.

Gold producers cheered a three-month closing high in the price of gold overnight; Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining elevated 0.7 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

South Korea’s key Kospi index looks set to extend gains into the third straight day, with department store giant Shinsegae continuing its charge, and as traders expect the Bank of Korea to keep the country’s monetary policy unchanged.

Buoyed by the company’s plan to operate a duty-free shop in central Seoul and Tuesday’s release of better-than-expected first-quarter earnings, Shinsegae rallied over 5 percent from the get-go, hitting its highest level since October 2013 after adding nearly 27.62 percent this week.

Korean Airlines announced a wider-than-expected net loss for the first three months of 2015 late Thursday, but investors seem to be heartened by the narrowing of losses, thanks to lower jet fuel prices. Shares of the national carrier rose nearly 2 percent.

Malaysia and Hong Kong are due to put out first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) on Friday.

The former’s growth likely slowed to 5.5 percent in the first three months of 2015, according to economists polled by Reuters, from 5.8 percent in the previous quarter.

While the front-loading of purchases ahead of April’s introduction of a good and services tax may have spurred domestic consumption, overall export growth remains soft due to falling oil prices and subdued demand from China, Moody’s Analytics wrote in a note last week.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s economy may have expanded 2.0 percent in the January-March period, slower than the 2.2 percent in the previous quarter.

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