Asian shares mostly higher, Nikkei rallies 3%
An upbeat handover from Wall Street on Thursday inspired gains in most Asian shares on Friday, with Japanese equities in particular seeing a robust rally.
Shrugging off a mixed bag of economic data, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 index both jumped 0.6 percent on Thursday, with the latter nearing its all-time high of 1,850.84. The Nasdaq climbed 0.7 percent.
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Tokyo 3% higher
Japanese shares were the brightest spark in Asia, lifted by bargain-hunting following Thursday's losses and amid a weaker yen. The benchmark Nikkei snapped a six-week losing streak and posted its biggest weekly gain since in nearly 3 months.
"Investors realized they had overreacted to the China survey yesterday. But we may not see further rises from here as people do not want to hold large positions before the weekend," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities interviewed by Reuters.
Softbank and Panasonic were among the top gainers, rising over 3.5 percent each. Chugai Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Swiss drug maker Roche Holding, soared 4.5 percent after Citigroup raised its rating to "buy" from "neutral".
Meanwhile, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso, who will be attending the G-20 meeting this weekend, urged the U.S. to keep close communication with markets as it tapers its asset-purchase program, noting the tapering is positive as it reflects an improving economy.
Shanghai tanks 1.2%
Mainland shares entered a two-day losing streak on Friday as investors remained concerned over the possibility of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
Oil giants Petrochina and Sinopec Corp tumbled 4 and 3 percent respectively, after seeing massive gains on Thursday.
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Banking stocks were among the biggest losers; Beijing Bank slumped 4 percent while Minsheng Bank lost 1.7 percent. Property stocks China Merchants Property and Shanghai Shimao slipped 3 percent each.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Yuan fell for the consecutive sixth day, on track for its biggest weekly loss against the U.S. dollar in three years, on speculation that the central bank is looking to cool gains in the currency.
Sydney adds 0.5%
Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index stretched its rally into a sixth consecutive session. Earlier in the session, it hit a near four-month high of 5452.
Insurance Australia Group gained 1.4 percent on robust first-half results. Mineral sands miner Iluka Resources reversed early losses to bounce back 1.6 percent, despite posting a 95 percent slump in annual profit. Other mining stocks also positive gains; Whitehaven Coal and Fortescue Metal rose over 2.5 percent each.
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Underperforming the bourse was National Bank of Australia, the only banking stock trading in the red on Friday. It fell nearly 2 percent despite announcing a rise of 11 percent in first-quarter profit.
Korea gains 1.4%
South Korean shares snapped a two-day losing streak to hit a near one-month high of 1957. The addition of 1.4 percent was also the Kospi index's biggest daily rise since November 15.
News about South Korean household consumption spending grew for the first time in six quarters in the last quarter of 2013 lifted sentiment, as this pointed to growth momentum in domestic demand.
Blue-chip stocks were mostly higher, with Samsung Electronics and KB Financial Group surging over 3 percent. The former is set to release its latest Galaxy S5 mobile phone at a trade show in Barcelona.
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