Asian stocks mixed, Japan GDP eyed


HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Friday a profit-taking offset another record close for the Dow on Wall Street, while Tokyo reversed morning losses to end on a high as the dollar broke the 116 yen barrier.

The generally upbeat outlook provided support and capped any losses, while attention will turn to this weekend’s G20 summit and the release Monday of Japanese growth data.

Tokyo added 0.56 percent, or 98.04 points, to 17,490.83—its highest since July 2007—and Sydney rose 0.21 percent, or 11.60 points, to 5,454.3, while Seoul fell 0.78 percent, or 15.37 points, to close at 1,945.14.

In the final trading session before the launch of a cross-exchange connection, Shanghai ended 0.27 percent, or 6.78 points, lower at 2,478.82 while in the late afternoon Hong Kong gained 0.28 percent, or 67.44 points, to 24,087.38.

After a turbulent October, global equities have enjoyed a strong run this month, largely helped by the Bank of Japan’s decision to ramp up its stimulus program to kickstart an anaemic economy.

Traders were given a positive lead from Wall Street, where the Dow added 0.23 percent to hit another all-time high, while the S&P 500 rose 0.05 percent but fell short of another record. The Nasdaq put on 0.11 percent.

US shares have notched up numerous records this year in response to a stream of figures showing the world’s biggest economy is well on track for recovery.

The strong US economy and the BoJ’s easing have also helped push the dollar higher and on Friday it hit 116.27 yen, its highest since late 2007 and well up from 115.75 yen in New York on Thursday.

The euro fetched $1.2451 and 144.80 yen compared with $1.2476 and 144.42 yen.

Japanese traders remain on alert following reports that the government is considering a delay to next year’s planned sales tax hike as well as a possible snap election next month.

“All eyes are on Monday’s third quarter gross domestic product data, which will be used to justify everything that’s being reported in the press—from the imminent dissolution of the lower house to the putting off of next year’s sales tax hike,” said Kazuyuki Terao, chief investment officer at Allianz Global Investors.

Also in focus will be this weekend’s Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, which will see the world’s most powerful leaders discuss problems facing the global economy, the Ebola crisis and defense issues.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for December delivery rose seven cents to $74.28 while Brent crude for January gained 38 cents to $77.87 in afternoon trade.

WTI plunged Thursday to settle at its lowest close since September 2010, while Brent dived $2.46 on the last day of the December contract.

Gold was at $1,152.81 an ounce, compared with $1,158.06 on Thursday.


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