Asia-Pacific Markets

Asian Markets Rise, But Jakarta Blasts Cap Gains

Most Asian markets extended gains Friday as key U.S. earnings reports beat expectations, fueling hopes that the global recession is receding, but deadly explosions at two Jakarta hotels weighed on Indonesia stocks and the rupiah.

The yen gained broadly and oil and gold edged down.

The blasts at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and the Marriott Hotel in central Jakartakilled as many as nine people, sending Jakarta stocks down 2 percent and lopping 0.7 percent off the rupiah, which has been Asia's best performing currency so far this year.

Strong earnings for major U.S. companies continued to cheer global markets as the quarterly reporting season moved into higher gear, pushing U.S. share indexes up about 1 percent Thursday. JPMorgan posted a strong quarterly result, backing up solid results from Goldman Sachs and Intel earlier in the week. Another bellwether stock, International Business Machines surprised with better-than-expected earnings, and hiked its full-year outlook, adding to market confidence.

The yen edged up against a range of currencies, though it was not immediately clear how much of this was due to the Jakarta explosions, with traders divided on whether the news had an impact on financial markets. The U.S. dollar edged down against the yen, while the Australian dollar slipped against the yen. Oil prices slipped below $62 a barrel.

Japan's Nikkei 225 Average closed 0.6 percent higher after strong results at JPMorgan boosted optimism about corporate earnings, but gains were capped by political uncertainty ahead of an election next month. Also weighing on the market was a 8.9 percent tumble for electronics conglomerate NEC after a source familiar with the matter said it is considering raising about $2.1 billion in capital.

South Korea's KOSPI finished half a percent higher with gains fueled by techs such as LG Display and LG Electronics. Shares in Hyundai Heavy Industries rose after news late on Thursday it had won a $1 billion gas equipment project order in the United Arab Emirates.

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Hong Kong shares posted a fourth straight day of gains as data from China and a slew of strong corporate earnings from the United States supplied fresh evidence of a global economic turnaround. Shares in Orient Overseas clawed back 52 percent after a program trade in the final minute of trade on Thursday sent the stock plunging 32 percent.

Singapore's Straits Times Index finished 1.25 percent higher after a brief period in the red following news of the Jakarta explosions. 

China's Shanghai Composite Index was virtually flat as investors built up ammunition for next week's mega initial public offering. China's Sichuan Expressway priced its Shanghai IPO at the top end of the indicated range, raising $264 million. The offer was 414 times subscribed, highlighting the very strong demand for new shares among retail investors.