Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets Close Higher on Upbeat Corporate Profits

Asian markets rallied in the afternoon session Friday, ending the week higher as upbeat profits results from companies such as Sony gave stocks a boost.  Japan and Australia both finished over 1 percent higher, while South Korea advanced 2.6 percent.

Oil hit a record high over $91 on tight inventories and fresh signs OPEC will shrug off calls for additional oil. U.S. crude , touched a peak of $91.10 a barrel in early electronic trade on Friday.

The U.S. dollar languished near its life lows on expectations of further U.S. interest rate cuts after data showed unexpectedly poor sales of new U.S. homes and falls in orders for durable or long-lasting goods, underscoring weakness in the world's biggest economy.

The Nikkei 225 Average ended at the session's high, up 1.4 percent on a surge in blue-chip stocks such as Sony after good earnings results, prompting a wave of short-covering. But the market lacked overall direction, with activity centering more on short-term trading and company-specific factors such as earnings results than any clear market trends.

A man uses his mobile phone in front of electronic stock boards at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX Ltd.) headquarters in Sydney, Australia.
Ian Waldie | Bloomberg | Getty Images

South Korea's KOSPI added 2.6 percent to close at a two-week high, ending above the 2,000-point mark, with techs such as Hynix Semiconductor back in favor, while record oil prices boosted energy firms such as SK Energy. LG.Philips LCD soared more than 11 percent at one point on market talk Japan's Matsushita Electric Industrial was buying a stake in the flat screen maker, but cut gains to 4.4 percent after both firms dismissed the speculation.

Australian shares gained 1.15 percent as record high oil prices and stronger base
metal prices lifted shares in resource firms such as BHP Billiton and Woodside Petroleum.

Hong Kong blue chips jumped over 1 percent to hold firmly above the 30,000 level for the first time, as Sino Land led property shares on a second-straight record run amid a weak U.S. dollar and speculation of a U.S. rate cut. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the territory's central bank, sold HK$775 million (US$100 million) worth of local currency for U.S. dollars on Friday in an effort to curb a strengthening Hong Kong dollar. 

Singapore's Straits Times Index was over 1 percent higher with DBS Group leading the advance after Singapore's largest bank reported profit rose 11 percent for the quarter.

Chinese stocks bucked the region's positive trend and fell as much as 1 percent during the day, extending Thursday's plunge, as PetroChina's huge Shanghai IPO continued to drain money. This coincides with growing concern among fund managers that after rising nearly 130 percent in 2007 to this month's peak, the market is too richly valued to continue climbing for now. It is still up 106 percent since the start of the year.

But the Shanghai Composite Index wriggled back into the green towards the end of the session, closing nearly 0.5 percent up.