World Economy

Nikkei at 15-Year High

Nikkei at 15-Year HighNikkei at 15-Year High

Investors focused on Japan on Friday as the country’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index traded above 20,000 for the first time since April 2000.

The high was short-lived however with the index closing down 0.15% at 19,907.63 points after hitting 20,004.99 in early trade, BBC reported.

Shares were boosted by Wall Street ending higher after US energy stocks performed strongly.

The Nikkei was also boosted on Friday by Japan’s Fast Retailing. The Nikkei is up nearly 15% this year.

Shares in Asia’s largest clothing retailer closed up more than 3.5% on Friday following its announcement a day earlier that it had raised its income forecast for the full year to August by 20%.

Investors had also hoped for larger shareholder returns and a recovery in domestic consumption.

 China Highs

Shares on mainland China reached a seven-year high on Friday as the Shanghai Composite benchmark index crossed the 4,000 mark for the first time since 2008. The index was up 1.37% at 4,320.71 in afternoon trade.

China’s consumer inflation rate remained at 1.4% in March. The lukewarm data may see China introduce further easing policies amid its slowing economy, analysts said.

The country’s producer price index showed that factory deflation continued with prices down 4.6%, although analysts had predicted a 4.8% fall.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index continued its week-long rally. It rose 1.1% in morning trade, but by mid-afternoon the index was up just 0.15% at 26,984.55.

The chief executive of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange said it would “substantially increase” the quotas for the stock connect program between Hong Kong and Shanghai.

His comments came after Chinese investors used up the entire 10.5bn yuan ($1.7bn; £1.1bn) daily quota for buying Hong Kong stocks through the trading link for the first time on Wednesday, sending turnover to a record.

Australian shares were also higher through the day, closing in on a seven-year high. The S&P/ASX 200 index ended the day up 0.6% at 5,968.4.

Shares of mining giant BHP Billiton weighed on the benchmark, closing down 0.15% on lower iron ore prices.

In South Korea, the Kospi closed up 1.4% at 2,087.76 after ratings agency Moody’s lifted its outlook on the country from stable to positive.