HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Japanese stocks drove a rally in Asian markets for a second straight day Friday, with exporters leading the charge against the backdrop of the yen’s recent losses, a decline in Chinese inflation and optimism over Greece’s debt restructuring.
The Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.08% , which jumped 2% on the previous day, rose another 1.7% to finish the day at 9,929.74, its highest close since Aug. 1. Earlier in the day, the benchmark had briefly topped 10,000, also for the first time since Aug. 1.
Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.79% rose 0.9% to 21,086, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.68% gained 1% to 4,212, South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.36% advanced 0.9% to 2,018.30 and Taiwan’s Taiex climbed 0.4% to 8,016.01.
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China’s Shanghai Composite /zigman2/quotes/206600939/delayed CN:000001 +2.15% advanced 0.8% to 2,439.46, after data showing the February consumer price index rose 3.2%, substantially softening from a 4.5% reading in January.
The stock market rallied even as several analysts said the data may not be enough to prompt more monetary easing from Beijing in the immediate future.
“While today’s data points to better than expected inflation trajectory in the near-term, we remain skeptical of the prospect for broad easing in the monetary stance,” said Li Cui, Asia economist at Royal Bank of Scotland.
Greece-linked optimism also supported stock gains for most of the day. After the Japanese and Australian markets closed for the week, Greece said that bondholders with 85.8% of private sector debt have accepted its bond swap offer. The country will also activate collective action clauses in its bond agreements, forcing a wider participation in the deal.
“It seems that Greece will get its bailout after all and Tuesday’s sell-down on fears that the participation rate would be too low was grossly misjudged,” said Stan Shamu at IG Markets.
Japanese exporters were among the best performers during the session, supported by a 6% advance for the U.S. dollar in the year-to-date against the yen.
Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -0.36% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE +0.09% jumped 4.3%, Mazda Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/204777714/delayed JP:7261 -0.52% /zigman2/quotes/206326885/delayed MZDAY -0.80% climbed 4.7%, while Casio Computer Co. /zigman2/quotes/202492162/delayed JP:6952 +0.60% /zigman2/quotes/206719136/delayed CSIOY +2.10% jumped 2.4%.
Financial stocks also advanced, with Daiwa Securities Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/201391978/delayed JP:8601 +0.36% /zigman2/quotes/201035229/delayed DSEEY -0.30% gaining 3% and Matsui Securities Co. /zigman2/quotes/209425862/delayed JP:8628 -0.34% /zigman2/quotes/201685257/delayed MAUSY 0.00% climbed 2.5%.
Many of the region’s resource stocks also built on the previous day’s rally as commodity prices were supported.
Cnooc Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204964401/composite CEO +0.60% /zigman2/quotes/203421416/delayed HK:883 +0.71% rose 1.4% and Jiangxi Copper Co. /zigman2/quotes/201668148/delayed HK:358 +1.89% /zigman2/quotes/204256025/delayed JIXAY -2.05% added 1.2% in Hong Kong; BHP Billiton Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +0.36% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP +0.10% climbed 1.2% and Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +0.40% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +1.18% rose 2.4% in Sydney; Pacific Metals Co. /zigman2/quotes/209253802/delayed JP:5541 -1.15% /zigman2/quotes/203626509/delayed PFMTF 0.00% jumped 4.1% in Tokyo; and Shandong Gold-Mining Co. /zigman2/quotes/200150484/delayed CN:600547 +0.42% climbed 1.9%.
“Chinese consumer price and producer price inflation [data] came and went without incident today,” Tim Waterer, CMC Markets strategist said in a note to clients.
Among other movers, heavyweight China Mobile Ltd. jumped 4% in Hong Kong after Goldman Sachs raised the stock to a buy from neutral and increased its price target.