Asian shares rose broadly on Friday, with gains in commodities and the recent strength in the euro following easing measures announced by central banks around the world underpinning sentiment. Gains, however, were limited after a batch of surveys showed aggressive monetary easing from the European Central Bank has so far failed to boost Eurozone business activity.
There were hopes that Spain may be edging closer to a rescue plan as early as next week after the Financial Times newspaper reported that EU officials and Spanish government are working over a plan on "structural reforms" that could meet the demands of its international lenders. It is worth mentioning here that Spain's debt auction attracted strong demand yesterday with a substantial drop in borrowing costs despite lingering questions over whether and when Madrid will ask for a bailout.
Tokyo stocks ended slightly higher in thin trading, led by defensive shares as the yen looked set for a weekly gain against most of its major counterparts amid concerns about the global economy and the ongoing tensions between Japan and China over disputed islands. Both the Nikkei average as well as the broader Topix index ended up about 0.3 percent each. Japan Tobacco rose 2.9 percent, pharmaceutical firm Eisai added 0.8 percent and Apple's iPhone 5 carrier KDDI gained half a percent.
Shares of Sharp soared 5 percent on heavy volume following a report that the embattled electronics maker was in talks with U.S. chip maker Intel over a capital tie-up, although Sharp denied the report. Japan Airlines slumped 4.3 percent on saying it would cut flights to China due to the ongoing territorial row between Tokyo and Beijing.
China's Shanghai Composite index edged up just about 0.1 percent, with concerns over the outlook for domestic growth limiting further upside. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 0.7 percent, led by resource stocks as oil prices stabilized following recent steep losses.
Australian stocks edged higher, supported by modest gains in banks and commodity-related stocks after a Federal Reserve policymaker known for his hawkish stance suggested on Thursday the central bank can keep interest rates low as long as inflation remains in check to help bring down unemployment below 5.5 percent. Paring the previous session's losses, both the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 and the broader All Ordinaries index ended the session up about 0.3 percent each.
Global miner BHP Billiton ended on a flat note and Rio Tinto edged down 0.4 percent, but smaller rival Fortescue rose 0.3 percent. In the oil & gas sector, Woodside gained 0.6 percent and Santos added half a percent. Among major banks, ANZ, Commonwealth and Westpac rose between 0.3 percent and 1.4 percent, but NAB lost half a percent.
South Korea's Kospi average rose 0.6 percent, led by steelmakers and market heavyweight Samsung on hopes that the recent stimulus measures from major economies will help to spur economic growth. Samsung Electronics, Apple's arch-rival in the booming smartphone market, rose 1.2 percent on bargain hunting following recent losses, while steelmakers POSCO and Hyundai Steel added 1-2 percent. LG Display retreated 2.7 percent on reports its Japanese rival Sharp may get cash injection of more than $380 million from Intel.
New Zealand shares lost ground, as a negative lead from the U.S. amid growth concerns kept investors on the sidelines. The benchmark NZX-50 index slid 0.3 percent, dragged down by Kathmandu Holdings after it posted an 11 percent decline in annual profit. Shares of the outdoor clothing and equipment retailer plummeted 6.3 percent and children's clothing retailer Pumpkin Patch dropped 1.7 percent ahead of its annual results next week, while would-be bank Heartland New Zealand climbed 3.2 percent and carpet maker Cavalier rose 2 percent.
Elsewhere, India's benchmark Sensex was last rallying 2.3 percent after the government notified all FDI decisions taken last week and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav pledged his support to the United Progressive Alliance, saying his party doesn't want to let communal forces to come to power.
Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was moving up 0.6 percent, Singapore's Straits Times index was gaining 0.6 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average added 0.4 percent, but Malaysia's KLSE Composite index slipped 0.1 percent.
On Wall Street, stocks recouped early losses to end on a mixed note overnight after data showed new claims for jobless benefits remained relatively high last week. The Dow crept up 0.1 percent to end in positive territory, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq and the S&P 500 were stuck in the red, ending down 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
by RTT Staff Writer
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