Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Stocks Rise, Japan and South Korea Gain Over 1%

Asian stocks were mostly stronger this Good Friday, following gains on Wall Street. Japan and South Korea both finished over 1 percent higher. Markets in Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and Singapore are closed for the Good Friday holiday.

Gold and oil fell sharply as investors dumped commodities and lifted U.S. stocks to big gains on the view that inflation could moderate if the selling pressure in futures markets continues.   The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied more than 2 percent as crude's fall helped relieve worries about the effect of higher prices on consumers and businesses.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average closed 1.8 percent higher, thanks to gains in high-tech firms such as Kyocera after a rise on Wall Street. Financials such as Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group also buoyed the market on hopes that steps to cope with the credit crunch will stabilize markets and avert a deep U.S. recession.  

South Korea's KOSPI closed up 1.3 percent, led by financials, as receding worries over a credit crunch and a slide in commodities prices stoked investors' appetite for stocks, with foreigners fueling upward momentum. Financials including banks and brokerage shares rose across the board, with Kookmin Bank and Shinhan Financial both advancing.

Taiwan stocks rose 2.2 percent to a two-week closing high, led by Cathay Financial and other financial firms with better earnings prospects, one day before the island's presidential election.

Chinese stocks were mixed with the Shanghai Composite Index bouncing in and out of negative territory, hit by a selloff in heavily weighted PetroChina amid disappointment at the absence of fresh government efforts to support the market. PetroChina tumbled 4 percent. The pull-back of global oil prices may have been partly responsible, traders said, but many said bigger factors were the stock's valuations and the possibility of a slowdown in China's economy.