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Asian Shares Mostly Higher After U.S. Inflation Data

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Asian stocks closed mostly higher on Friday, with higher commodity prices and easing rate hike fears helping underpin investor sentiment. While the dollar index eased somewhat after the release of tepid U.S. inflation data, oil prices hovered near multi-year highs reached in the previous session.

Geopolitical developments also remained in focus after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was optimistic of "doing something very meaningful" to curtail North Korea's nuclear ambitions at a summit in Singapore on June 12th.

Japanese shares hit a three-month high as chip-related shares advanced and several companies posted strong earnings. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 261.30 points or 1.2 percent to 22,758.48, its highest level since February 5th. The broader Topix Index closed 1 percent higher at 1,794.96.

Technology stocks followed their U.S. peers higher, with Tokyo Electron rising 2.5 percent, Advantest adding 1 percent and Murata Manufacturing climbing 4.6 percent.

Suzuki Motor Corp soared 9 percent and Panasonic added 4.9 percent after posting strong results for the year ended in March.

SoftBank Group jumped 2 percent on a Nikkei report that Japan's three megabanks will participate in the Vision Fund, an investment fund formed by the technology conglomerate in 2017.

Australian markets ended little changed after four straight sessions of gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finished marginally lower at 6,116.20, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed a tad higher at 6,216.40.

Gains in copper and zinc prices helped lift mining stocks, with South32, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group climbing 1-2 percent. Caltex Australia advanced 1.9 percent after the service station group reported a 6 percent increase in first quarter profits.

Meanwhile, wealth manager AMP hit a near seven-year low before closing down about 5.8 percent at $3.73. Grain handler GrainCorp dropped 1 percent after reporting a 60 percent decrease in its half-year profit on lower crop production in eastern Australia.

On the data front, the total number of owner occupied dwelling commitments in Australia dropped 2.2 percent month-over-month in March, faster than the 0.2 percent dip in February, official data showed.

China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 11.56 points or 0.4 percent to 3,162.85, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped 312.84 points or 1percent to 31,122.06.

Seoul stocks finished higher on optimism about the upcoming U.S.-North Korea summit next month after Trump envisioned "a very special moment for world peace." The benchmark Kospi gained 13.55 points or 0.6 percent to end at
2,477.71.

Financials led the surge on hopes for reduced inflation pressure in the United States. Samsung Life Insurance, NH Investment & Securities and Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. jumped 2-5 percent.

New Zealand shares eked out modest gains to reach a fresh record, with healthcare stocks leading the surge on expectations that interest rates will not rise anytime soon.

The benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index gained 38.97 points or 0.5 percent to finish at 8,676.69. Retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare rallied 2.7 percent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare advanced 1.9 percent.

The manufacturing sector in New Zealand continued to expand in April, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from BusinessNZ revealed with a two-year high score of 58.9. Separately, the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand said that New Zealand house prices and sales volume increased in April from a year ago.

Singapore's Straits Times index was climbing 0.9 percent after a government report showed the country's retail sales increased at a faster-than-expected pace in March. Malaysian markets were closed for a holiday as Mahathir Mohamad was sworn in as the nation's seventh prime minister after a stunning election comeback.

India's Sensex was moving up 0.3 percent, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was rallying 1.4 percent and the Taiwan Weighted advanced 0.9 percent.

U.S. stocks ended solidly higher for the second day running on Thursday, with banks, technology and healthcare stocks pacing the gainers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.8 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite jumped around 0.9 percent to reach their best closing levels in almost two months.

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