Asian stocks traded mixed on Friday, with extreme volatility in Japanese shares keeping investors nervous. Japan's Nikkei index swung over 1,000 points for a second day in a row before ending notably higher on optimism over earnings growth and the economy.
The Nikkei rebounded 3 percent early in the session following the previous session's 7.3 percent plunge. With sentiment souring again, the index lost 3 percent before recovering to end 128 points or 0.9 percent higher at 14,612. Yields on 10-year Japanese government bonds edged lower today after the Bank of Japan injected funds into the market.
During a speech at an International conference on the 'Future of Asia', Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda stressed the central bank's resolve to stem volatility through flexible market operations, but said there are no targets for stock prices or foreign exchange rates. He also vowed to strengthen communication with the markets.
SoftBank rose 1.3 percent after the company said it is apparently ready to let the U.S. government have veto power over one nominee to Sprint Nextel Corp.'s board to oversee national security. Shinsei Bank jumped 6.5 percent after tumbling 15 percent yesterday, Mitsui Fudosan added 1.2 percent and Nikon jumped 4 percent.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group slid 1.9 percent, extending the previous session's 9.3 percent plunge. ANA Holdings soared 4 percent in response to a plan by its airline All Nippon Airways Co. to resume operations of its 787 Dreamliners from Sunday.
China's Shanghai Composite index rose 0.6 percent on hopes for more market-related reforms, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index edged down 0.2 percent to hit a four-week low on concerns over slowing Chinese growth.
Australian shares fell for the fourth straight session, with banks and resource stocks pacing the declines. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 fell 79 points or 1.6 percent to 4,983, its lowest level since April 23. Westpac led the banking sector lower with a 2 percent loss, while NAB, Commonwealth and ANZ dropped between 1.3 percent and 1.6 percent. BHP Billiton lost 1.5 percent on Chinese growth concerns, while rival Rio Tinto Plc. slid 1.1 percent on news it has cut about 100 jobs as part of efforts to reduce operating costs at its Kennecott Utah Copper unit.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining rallied 3.9 percent and Kingsgate Consolidated soared 8.8 percent, buoyed by a sharp rally in gold futures to a one-week high on Thursday. Crown lost 1.8 percent on selling its 10 percent stake in rival casino operator, Echo Entertainment, for $264 million. Shares of Echo, meanwhile, plunged 12 percent to a record low. QBE retreated 3.6 percent on profit taking after rallying 6.6 percent the day before on a weaker Australian dollar.
Seoul shares posted modest gains, led by exporters on eased concerns over the weak Japanese yen. The benchmark Kospi average ended 0.2 percent higher at 1,973. Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors both rose about 0.7 percent each, while Samsung Electronics edged up 0.1 percent.
New Zealand shares fell sharply, as fears of Fed withdrawing stimulus and concerns over slowing economic growth in China gave investors a reason to take some profits off the table in overbought stocks. The benchmark NZX-50 shed 62 points or 1.4 percent to 4,526, with only a couple of stocks like Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Kiwi Income Property Trust and Restaurant Brands ending in the green. Among the prominent decliners, Fletcher Building, Telecom, Trade Me Group and Xero lost 1-6 percent.
On the macroeconomic front, New Zealand posted a merchandise trade surplus of NZ$157 million in April, Statistics New Zealand said, missing forecasts for a surplus of NZ$480 million following the upwardly revised surplus of NZ$732 million in March. Exports grew a seasonally adjusted 2.2 percent to NZ$3.95 billion from a year earlier, falling below analysts' expectations.
Elsewhere, India's Sensex was up 0.3 percent and Indonesia's Jakarta Composite was gaining 0.7 percent, while the Taiwan Weighted average declined 0.3 percent. The markets in Malaysia and Singapore were closed for public holidays.
U.S. stocks ended off their day's lows overnight, with an upbeat outlook from HP, encouraging housing data as well as a report showing a bigger than expected drop in initial jobless claims last week helping to limit the downside. The Dow and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped about 0.1 percent each, while the S&P 500 dropped 0.3 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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