HONG KONG: A weaker yen helped Japan’s Nikkei extend a recent rally after closing at a 15-year high in the previous session, but the euro struggled against other currencies ahead of crunch Greek debt talks.
With most of Asia’s equities markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday trade was thin, while the lead from Wall Street was also tepid.
Tokyo climbed 0.42 percent, Wellington added 0.42 percent and Manila gained 0.14 percent but Sydney fell 0.36 percent.
All other regional markets except Mumbai and Bangkok are closed for public holidays.
Finance ministers from the eurozone’s 19 member countries will meet in Brussels on Friday to consider a proposal by Athens to extend its European loan program, which expires at the end of the month.
The new Greek government has put forward a plan that will see it ask for an extension to its bailout but without many of the painful austerity measures it claims have ruined the country’s economy.
Germany ratcheted up the pressure Thursday by dismissing the proposal, saying it was “not a substantial proposal for a solution,” just moments after the European Union had hailed it as a step in the right direction.
However, there are hopes for a breakthrough after German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said later that while the offer fell short, “it must be used as a starting point for negotiations.”
And Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras by telephone for nearly an hour, which a Greek government source said was in a “positive climate.”
The euro fell Thursday to $1.1365 and 135.18 yen in New York—against $1.1415 and 135.49 yen earlier in the day in Tokyo.
On Friday the single currency was at $1.1364 and 135.32 yen.
The dollar edged up against the yen after retreating Thursday in response to US Federal Reserve minutes that suggested it could hold off an interest rate hike until the latter part of the year.
The greenback bought 119.07 yen against 118.94 yen in US trade.
On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.24 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.11 percent from a record high following a poor forecast from retail giant Wal-Mart and losses in oil firms. But the Nasdaq added 0.37 percent.
Crude prices recovered slightly Friday after taking a beating over the previous two days as a US government report showed stockpiles at record highs, adding to worries about a global supply glut.
US benchmark West Texas Intermediate added 35 cents to $52.18 while Brent gained 23 cents to $60.44.
Gold fetched $1,209.13 an ounce, against $1,218.81 on Thursday.