By V. Phani Kumar, MarketWatch
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) — Stocks in Hong Kong and Japan jumped to lead Asian markets higher Monday, tracking a positive global lead after key U.S. indexes notched another record finish on Friday, although South Korean shares underperformed amid geopolitical concerns.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index /zigman2/quotes/210598030/delayed HK:HSI -1.03% climbed 1.8% as the market reopened after Friday’s holiday, while the Nikkei Stock Average /zigman2/quotes/210597971/delayed JP:NIK -0.39% gained 1.5% in Tokyo, climbing further from levels it hasn’t seen in more than five years.
The broad advances followed a record finish for the Dow industrials /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.44% and the S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.38% on Friday as investors cheered upbeat U.S. economic data.
“The share-market rally across the world is putting the ‘don’t chase a rally’ adage to the test, as bourses continue to record territory,” said Perpetual head of investment market research Matthew Sherwood.
“Quality is essential in this market, as prices are distorted, and the foundations [aren’t] strong,” he said.
Among the notable gainers in Tokyo, shares of Sony Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201361720/delayed JP:6758 -0.57% /zigman2/quotes/208567357/composite SNE -0.49% climbed 5.7%, and shipping major Nippon Yusen K.K. /zigman2/quotes/203488100/delayed JP:9101 -0.80% /zigman2/quotes/208117193/delayed NPNYY -0.08% soared 11.3%.
The rally in Tokyo came as the Japanese government upgraded its outlook for the domestic economy in a report released Monday.
The stock advance also came even as the U.S. dollar /zigman2/quotes/210561789/realtime/sampled USDJPY -0.1053% slipped back below the 103-yen handle that it breached on Friday, though the greenback remained above its levels seen during the previous Japan stock session.¥
Remarks by Japan’s Economy Minister Akira Amari that further yen weakness could be harmful helped to boost the local currency.
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“Japan’s turbo-charged stimulus measures have helped contribute to a solid gross domestic product growth outcome in the first quarter and to the rally in risk assets, but much needs to be done in terms of reforms to help sustain growth,” said Crédit Agricole’s Asia head of global markets research Mitul Kotecha.
Shares of Panasonic Corp. /zigman2/quotes/201785256/delayed JP:6752 +0.50% /zigman2/quotes/202333059/delayed PCRFY -1.47% rose 5% after the Nikkei newspaper reported the tech firm’s plans to further integrate its Sanyo Electric unit, slashing Sanyo’s remaining workforce by up to 90%.
Shares of Tokyo Electric Power Co. /zigman2/quotes/202771076/delayed JP:9501 -0.23% /zigman2/quotes/204529331/delayed TKECF -1.79% spiked 16%, with a separate Nikkei report saying Goldman Sachs Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS -1.94% plans a large green-energy investment, power from which would go to the utility major.
Most regional energy producers also jumped as U.S. benchmark crude-oil prices hovered around $96 a barrel.