Asian markets came off initial losses Friday in volatile trading, with gains in technology and export-related stocks offsetting weakness in financials and shippers. Japan, Australia and South Korea all closed stronger.
Energy firms, such as Australia's Woodside Petroleum and Japan's Inpex Holdings, advanced after oil prices rose as concerns about a possible strike in Nigeria, Africa's top producer, stirred supply worries. Oil prices initially fell more than $3 a barrel but rallied in the afternoon, closing the U.S. Thursday session near $137. Crude oil is currently trading above the $136 level in the Asian Friday session.
Exporters gained ground as the dollar rallied broadly, after the strong retail sales figure boosted expectations that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates this year.
However, the region's shippers such as Mitsui OSK and COSCO lost ground.Their declines were promptedby an 8.7 percent fall inthe Baltic Exchange's dry freight Index, due to rising fuel costs and a slowdown in the global economy. The index monitors merchant shipping costs for dry commodities like coal and iron ore.