By Suryatapa Bhattacharya
Asian shares rose Monday as confidence in equities continued to creep back, with some markets in the region gaining after the Lunar New Year holiday.
South Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.76% was up 0.8%, Singapore’s benchmark /zigman2/quotes/210597985/delayed SG:STI +0.41% gained 1.1% and Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK +0.03% closed up 2% at a two-week high helped by some yen softening after last week’s sharp rises. Shares in Australia /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.38% /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.38% rose, while stocks in New Zealand /zigman2/quotes/211587880/delayed NZ:NZ50GR -0.63% underperformed.
/zigman2/quotes/211587880/delayed NZ:NZ50GR -0.63% Markets in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan remain closed for the holiday. U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Presidents Day.
The gains in Asia are the latest indication of improving confidence in global equities following a correction earlier in February sparked by fears about rising inflation. Investors are now refocusing on strong earnings.
“It’s kind of a relief rally,” said Takashi Hiroki, chief strategist at Monex Securities in Tokyo. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had its best week since President Donald Trump’s election win, while the S&P 500’s weekly jump last week was its largest since 2013.
Both retail and institutional investors in Japan were using the recent dip as a buying opportunity, Mr. Hiroki added, against a background of healthy economic growth. Japanese exports rose for a 14th straight month in January, led by continued demand from Asia for semiconductor equipment, Japan’s finance ministry said Monday.
Among the day’s biggest movers, Fast Retailing /zigman2/quotes/200663563/delayed JP:9983 +0.55% gained 2.5% while automated machinery maker Fanuc /zigman2/quotes/202054799/delayed JP:6954 +0.08% added 3.7%.
The Nikkei got an extra lift as the yen shed some of its gains from last week. The dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561418/realtime/sampled JPYUSD +0.3026% was recently at ¥106.47 versus ¥105.76 when Tokyo stocks stopped trading Monday versus ¥105.76 at the close Friday.
Export-related stocks gained. Nintendo /zigman2/quotes/208063194/delayed JP:7974 -1.33% was up 1.9%. Toyota Motor /zigman2/quotes/203803129/delayed JP:7203 +1.20% gained 2% and Honda Motor /zigman2/quotes/200490352/delayed JP:7267 +1.25% climbed 1.9%.
Korea’s Kospi /zigman2/quotes/210598069/delayed KR:180721 +0.76% also climbed near two-week highs with the index up 0.8%, supported by Samsung Electronics /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 +0.29% shares, which gained 3%.
Broad gains helped push up Australia’s ASX 200 /zigman2/quotes/210598100/delayed AU:XJO +0.38% to its highest close in two weeks following a recovery by most of the major banks and a strong corporate earnings season. The S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6% with National Australia Bank /zigman2/quotes/210431826/delayed AU:NAB -0.13% advancing 0.8%. Beach Energy /zigman2/quotes/200513631/delayed AU:BPT +1.92% , Brambles /zigman2/quotes/200985667/delayed AU:BXB -0.81% , NIB Holdings /zigman2/quotes/207029716/delayed AU:NHF -1.73% and Seek /zigman2/quotes/208630299/delayed AU:SEK -1.18% each gained at least 1% after releasing earnings results.
Both retail and institutional investors in Japan were using the recent dip as a buying opportunity, Hiroki added, against a background of healthy economic growth. Japanese exports rose for a 14th straight month in January, led by continued demand from Asia for semiconductor equipment, Japan’s finance ministry said Monday.
Shares in Singapore and Malaysia /zigman2/quotes/210598052/delayed MY:FBMKLCI +1.85% also gained, helped by strength in banks and infrastructure-related stocks.
New Zealand’s NZX 50 /zigman2/quotes/211587880/delayed NZ:NZ50GR -0.63% was the underperformer of the region, closing down 0.1%, ahead of earnings results due this week.
— Robb M. Stewart in Melbourne, Australia, contributed to this article.