Asian stocks markets mostly advanced Friday as the better-than-expected U.S. economic data and the comments from ECB President Mario Draghi added to the positive sentiment.
Japanese benchmark Nikkei gained 0.44 percent or 38.71 points to 8863.30, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.50 percent or 29.85 points to 21,012.81 and South Korean KOSPI Composite advanced 0.12 percent or 2.49 points to 1995.17 while India's BSE Sensex declined 0.61 percent. Shanghai remained closed for holiday.
Markets opened on a strong note, following the overnight gains from the Wall Street as the better-than-expected jobless claims and factory orders data slightly eased the concerns that the world's biggest economy was losing momentum.
The Labor Department said Thursday that Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 last week to seasonally adjusted 367,000 in the week ending Sept. 29, slightly better that analysts’ estimate of 370,000 claims. The data on factory orders also came in just better-than-expected. Orders for manufactured goods fell 5.2 percent to $452.81 billion in August, the biggest decline in more than three years, but it was better than the 6 percent drop forecast by analysts.
Sentiment was also supported by Draghi’s comment that the ECB was ready to buy the bonds of troubled euro zone nations as soon as the conditions were met by the governments. Spanish medium term debt auction Thursday showed a reduction in borrowing costs, with a sharp fall in the 5-year yield to 4.766 percent from 6.459 percent paid in early July on expectation that the debt-ridden country would soon apply for assistance.
Meanwhile, investors are eagerly waiting for the U.S. government's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, which is the most closely watched economic data pertaining to the jobs market and is a key gauge for the direction and pace of the economic recovery. The improvement in the non-manufacturing activity, combined with a better-than-expected private sector hiring, raised hopes that the September employment report would be better than what the initial consensus had indicated.
"All eyes are on the jobs data, as it affects markets from energy to metals through its impact on stock prices and currencies. Recent sluggish economic data shows demand is unlikely to pick up explosively even on a strong jobs report, so broad price reactions in commodities will likely be triggered by the dollar's move," Naohiro Niimura, a partner at Tokyo-based research and consulting firm Market Risk Advisory, told Reuters.
Japanese shares pared earlier gains but ended on a high note after the Bank of Japan decided to leave the present monetary policy settings unchanged with a 9-0 unanimous decision. Exporter companies’ shares hurt as the yen gained against the dollar following the policy announcement.
Among the stocks, Sharp Corp. declined 2.75 percent and Nikon Corp. plunged 4.81 percent while Fast Retailing Co Ltd. gained 1.76 percent.
Commodity related shares went up across the region. Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd. surged 3.17 percent and Aluminum Corp. of China Ltd. advanced 2.83 percent in Hong Kong while Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. surged 4.89 percent in Tokyo.
In Seoul, LG Display Co Ltd. plunged 4.45 percent and LG Electronics gained 0.26 percent while Samsung Electronics rose 0.22 percent.
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