HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian markets pulled higher Thursday, with Japanese auto firms standing out as a weakened yen spurred the nation’s exporters, while regional energy shares were hit by a sharp fall in oil prices.
The broad advance came as U.S. stock index futures climbed after the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican party challenger Mitt Romney. Take the poll on who won the debate.
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IG Markets strategist Cameron Peacock said U.S. futures edged higher during Asian trading hours, with Romney “surprisingly putting in a very strong performance.”
“It seems the slightest improvement in Romney’s numbers or the faintest whiff of a Republican victory is enough to push U.S. equity futures higher,” he said.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -3.34% rose 0.9% to 8,824.59, snapping a four-session losing streak.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO -1.60% added 0.3% to 4,452.40 to extend its string of positive finishes to six trading days and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI +0.27% ended up 0.1% at 20,907.95.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +1.18% declined 0.2% to 1,992.68, while Taiwan’s Taiex ended fractionally lower at 7,682.34.
Markets on the Chinese mainland remain closed for the Golden Week holidays until next Monday.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.07% futures climbed 56 points to 13,482 by late afternoon in Hong Kong.
“I think it had a good impact on Hong Kong and Asian markets as a whole,” said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities, referring to the U.S. presidential debate.
Global investors were inclined to take a positive view on markets following recent European Central Bank and Federal Reserve moves to help economic growth, Yip said, although he added that uncertainly related to the U.S. fiscal cliff and the Chinese economy hasn’t gone away.
A drop in the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar aided shares of exporters, with auto firms doing particularly well.
Toyota Motor Corp. /zigman2/quotes/200537742/composite TM +0.55% /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 -3.36% climbed 3%, Honda Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 -3.42% /zigman2/quotes/207173990/composite HMC +0.17% jumped 3.2%, and Nissan Motor Co. /zigman2/quotes/207656007/delayed NSANY -1.82% /zigman2/quotes/208298710/delayed JP:7201 -4.50% soared 5.1%.