World Economy

Asian Shares Rise in Thin Trade

The Nikkei average ended 255.27 points or  1.19% higher at 21,720.25The Nikkei average ended 255.27 points or  1.19% higher at 21,720.25

Asian stocks rose on Friday after US shares extended their winning streak to five sessions overnight, shrugging off concerns over inflation and higher interest rates.

Trading volumes remained thin across Asia as markets in China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan remained closed for the Lunar New Year holiday. Chinese markets are closed till February 21, Nasdeq reported.

Japanese shares saw a relief rally after the government nominated Haruhiko Kuroda to serve a second five-year term as the head of the Bank of Japan, a signal that easy monetary policies will continue.

The Nikkei average ended 255.27 points or 1.19% higher at 21,720.25, taking the weekly gain to 1.6%. The broader Topix index closed 1.05% higher at 1,737.37, led by food and utility stocks.

Inpex gained 0.8% and Japan Petroleum Exploration added 0.7% after crude oil prices rose more than 1% overnight.

Australian shares closed marginally lower but ended the week with notable gains. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slid 5 points or 0.08% to 5,904, but the ended the week higher by more than 1%. The broader All Ordinaries index dropped 3.90 points to 6,004.80.

Miner South32 tumbled 5.1% amid brokerage downgrades in view of a softening outlook. Gold miner Newcrest lost 3.2%, a day after it reported a 58% slide in first-half underlying profit.

Banks ANZ, NAB and Westpac fell between 0.3% and 0.8% after Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said there's a little case for a near-term rate rise.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX-50 index climbed 61.98 points or 0.77% to 8,125.31 after the latest survey from Business NZ showed the country's manufacturing sector continued to expand in January, and at an accelerated pace with a PMI score of 55.6, up from 51.2 in December.

Meanwhile, European shares were set to chalk up healthy weekly gains on Friday, snapping a three-week losing streak as earnings updates continued to impress, and volatility and jitters over rising inflation eased.

Gains in the energy sector on rising oil prices and solid reports from large-cap companies including Schneider, Eni and Renault lifted the STOXX 600 index 0.9%. The pan-European benchmark is up 3% so far this week, set for its best week since December 2016, but still down around 6% from the 2-1/2-year peak it hit in January.

Among country benchmarks, the UK’s FTSE was up 0.6% and Germany’s DAX added 0.8%, while Italy’s FTSE MIB outperformed, up 1.2%.

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