HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Asian stocks mostly rose Friday as investors pushed up commodity-related firms, while shares in Tokyo briefly slid into losses after the Bank of Japan refrained from announcing fresh monetary easing.
With key U.S. jobs data on tap for later in the global trading day, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -3.21% gained 0.9% to 4,494.40 for a seventh straight session of gains.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.31% rose 0.5% to 21,012.38, South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 -2.22% edged up 0.1% to 1,995.17 and Taiwan’s Taiex climbed 0.1% to 7,690.65.
Mainland Chinese markets remained closed for the Golden Week holidays.
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Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital, said markets may struggle to extend recent gains in coming weeks, “given uncertainties regarding Spain, Greece and China.”
However, the broad upward trend for share markets is likely to remain intact, he said, due to an expected pick-up in optimism over corporate profits, given recent central-bank moves to support economic growth.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -3.03% , briefly dipped into losses after the Bank of Japan left the size of asset-purchase program and interest-rate target unchanged. But stocks managed to recover, sending the benchmark Average 0.4% higher to finish at 8,863.30. See: Bank of Japan stands pat despite pressure.
While most economists had been expecting the bank to hold its policy steady after it last month expanded its asset purchases, there had been some speculation this week that the central bank would introduce new easing measures — an expectation that led to some pressure on the yen and gains for exporters.
The broad regional gains came after lower-than-expected weekly jobless claims and factory orders that exceeded forecasts. Read: U.S. stocks climb on economic reports.
Markets, however, also reflected caution ahead of U.S. jobs data on tap later on Friday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch predict the U.S. economy added 110,000 jobs last month, with the unemployment rate seen ticking up to 8.2% from 8.1%. Read: U.S. economy still laboring to produce jobs.
The S&P/ASX 200 was the best performer among major benchmarks, rising 2.5% this week, while the Hang Seng Index added 0.8%. Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese markets ended the week with modest losses.
Several exporters declined in Tokyo amid the yen’s strength, with Nikon Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203281219/delayed JP:7731 -1.73% /zigman2/quotes/209396469/delayed NINOY -2.31% dropping 4.8% and Sharp Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203224600/delayed JP:6753 -3.39% /zigman2/quotes/207472799/delayed SHCAF +3.24% losing 2.8%.
Automobile firms also lost ground on concern about the impact on their China sales and operations following a recent flare-up of anti-Japan sentiment on the mainland. Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 -2.78% /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM -2.76% declined 1.6% and Nissan Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/207656007/delayed NSANY -4.16% /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 -2.47% shed 1.5%.
Retail firms were among notable gainers, with heavyweight stock and apparel company Fast Retailing Co. /zigman2/quotes/200663563/delayed JP:9983 -3.07% /zigman2/quotes/203924235/delayed FRCOY -3.64% climbing 1.8%.
Ryohin Keikaku Co. /zigman2/quotes/209094089/delayed JP:7453 -1.75% /zigman2/quotes/209595747/delayed RYKKF +15.31% rallied 4.3% after a Nikkei news report that the firm expects to post a 21% increase in fiscal-year pretax profit, which would exceed its previous forecast.
But Seven & I Holdings Co. /zigman2/quotes/207666111/delayed JP:3382 -0.38% /zigman2/quotes/210292336/delayed SVNDY -5.86% fell 4.2% after posting a drop in second-quarter net profit and lowering its full-year targets. Read: Seven & I profit falls 14%, cuts full-year outlook.
Resource sector shares did well across the region, with energy shares in particular rising after crude-oil prices jumped back above the $91 a barrel level.
PetroChina Co. /zigman2/quotes/205108732/composite PTR -1.54% /zigman2/quotes/204979431/delayed HK:857 0.00% rose 1.2% in Hong Kong, Inpex Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207958170/delayed IPXHY -2.48% /zigman2/quotes/206689846/delayed JP:1605 -2.83% added 1.6% in Tokyo, and Santos Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/207349564/delayed AU:STO -3.42% gained 0.9% in Sydney.
An advance for metal prices in New York also sent other resource firms higher. Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203840223/delayed AU:NCM -5.17% /zigman2/quotes/206026738/delayed NCMGF -3.12% rose 3.1% in Sydney and Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. /zigman2/quotes/205273301/delayed JP:5713 -1.64% /zigman2/quotes/208369777/delayed SMMYY -4.13% jumped 4.9% in Tokyo.
In Hong Kong, Aluminium Corp. of China Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202960704/delayed HK:2600 -0.47% /zigman2/quotes/208051344/composite ACH -4.09% advanced 3.1%, Citic Pacific Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205176597/delayed HK:267 +1.57% /zigman2/quotes/203994132/delayed CTPCY +7.59% jumped 5.2% and Zijin Mining Group Co. /zigman2/quotes/204517000/delayed HK:2899 +0.55% /zigman2/quotes/206594810/delayed ZIJMY -14.80% rose 2.9%.
Deutsche Bank strategists named Zijin Mining as one of their top picks among firms exposed to precious metals. They upgraded gold and silver forecasts “in light of further central bank action to expand monetary conditions.”