By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Most Asian stocks got a boost Friday after Europe’s two biggest central banks signaled an intent to maintain accommodative policy, with Japanese equities clinching solid weekly gains as the U.S. dollar climbed back above the 100-yen level.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +1.24% jumped 2.1% during the session. The benchmark rose 4.6% this week, its third consecutive week of gains.
/zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed NIK 26,934.36, +329.52, +1.24%
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +1.20% advanced 1% and the Shanghai Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598127/delayed CN:SHCOMP +0.50% edged up 0.1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -0.27% gained 1.9%, erasing losses accumulated earlier in the week.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.98% retreated 0.3%, underperforming the region as shares of market heavyweight Samsung Electronics Co. /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 +1.06% /zigman2/quotes/202367843/delayed SSNLF +30.66% tumbled 3.8% after the electronics giant issued a weaker-than-anticipated quarterly forecast.
“With U.S. markets enjoying the Independence Day holiday, the baton for sentiment direction was picked up by the Europeans,” said CMC Markets analyst Niall King, referring to Thursday’s surge in European equity markets.
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 index jumped 3.1% and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index rallied 2.3% Thursday after the European Central Bank and the Bank of England indicated they would keep monetary policy easy for the foreseeable future. News from Portugal indicating the government would avoid a collapse also lifted sentiment.
Tokyo Stock Exchange Enlarge Image
The day’s gains in Asia came as investors looked ahead to the U.S. June nonfarm-payrolls data due later Friday, with expectations that employment trends would influence how long the Federal Reserve will maintain the current pace of its bond purchases.
Economists estimate the U.S. economy added 155,000 jobs in June, less than the 175,000 new positions created in May.
“Our read of the data points to a softer pace of hiring in private services than last month with manufacturers still shedding jobs and government payrolls continuing to decline,” Crédit Agricole strategist Michael Carey wrote to clients.
U.S. equity futures pointed to likely sharp gains when the markets reopen Friday. Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.61% and the S&P 500 Index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.99% were both trading 0.9% higher.
Lower yen sends Tokyo higher
Several Japanese stocks got help from the weakened yen /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.0960% . Shares of Fast Retailing Co. /zigman2/quotes/200663563/delayed JP:9983 +0.20% /zigman2/quotes/203924235/delayed FRCOY +1.16% jumped 5%, Hitachi Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/203839937/delayed JP:6501 +1.53% /zigman2/quotes/200140010/delayed HTHIY +0.65% added 4.4%, and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207150000/delayed JP:6503 +1.25% /zigman2/quotes/206004588/delayed MIELY -0.87% advanced 3.9%.
China's cash crunch signals future monetary pains
Struggling to reform China's monetary policy, the country’s leaders blame the problems on speculation and aggressive media coverage.
Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +2.58% /zigman2/quotes/202333059/delayed PCRFY +2.11% gained 2.6% after the Nikkei newspaper reported the firm plans to shut down its European solar-cell plant under a broader restructuring strategy.
In Hong Kong, China Coal Energy Co. /zigman2/quotes/201486584/delayed HK:1898 +0.70% /zigman2/quotes/205321671/delayed CCOZY -7.28% spiked 7.2%, Hang Lung Properties Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200230831/delayed HK:101 -0.14% /zigman2/quotes/205863241/delayed HLPPY +1.10% added 4.1% and Bank of East Asia Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200493903/delayed HK:23 -0.18% /zigman2/quotes/208752465/delayed BKEAY -0.71% gained 2.4%.
Shares of Macau Legend Development Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/204463722/delayed HK:1680 -2.15% posted modest gains on their trading debut in Hong Kong, after the casino operator earlier cut the size of the offering. The stock ended the day’s trading at 2.40 Hong Kong dollars (30.8 U.S. cents), up from its initial public offering price of HK$2.35.
Mining stocks in Sydney received support amid expectations for easy monetary conditions at global central banks.
Rio Tinto Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO +1.72% /zigman2/quotes/202627887/composite RIO +0.33% added 1%, and BHP Billiton Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP +1.74% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -0.41% rose 1.2%. Shares of Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG -0.05% /zigman2/quotes/204116626/delayed FSUMF -4.72% tacked on 1.8%, finishing the week 10.5% higher.