Asia Markets

Nikkei breaches 19,000 mark to clinch new 15-year high

Nikkei at new 15-year high above 19,000 mark

Japanese stocks tracked a positive lead from Wall Street to hit a fresh multi-year high, breaching the 19,000 level, as major indices in the region largely rose on Friday.

Overnight, U.S. stocks bounced back from two days of losses on the back of a weaker dollar and as mixed economic data tapered expectations that the Federal Reserve will hike rates mid-year. The and the closed up more than 1 percent, respectively, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.9 percent.

Nikkei jumps 1.4%

A positive showing by industrial robot maker Fanuc helped Japan's Nikkei 225 index to close above the 19,000 mark, hitting its highest level since June 2000, on Friday. The index heavyweight soared 13.2 percent, on news that the company plans to step up talks with investors. Fast Retailing and Softbank rose 1.7 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

The weakening yen also buoyed most of the exporter stocks; Nissan Motor and Nintendo elevated 2.1 and 1.7 percent each, while Toshiba and Mitsubishi Electric notched up 0.6 and 0.8 percent, respectively.

"The Nikkei 225 can go up further in 2015, probably closer to the 20,000 level, and what's going to drive that that will be the low yen," Stephen Sheung, head of investment strategy at SHK Private, told CNBC Asia's "Squawk Box." "According to historical correlation, when the yen weakens significantly, exports will pick up in the months after so we should be seeing that in the coming months and that will help the exports and industrial sectors in Japan. Earnings in these markets will be drivers of the Japanese market."

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Shanghai Comp up 0.7%

China's Shanghai Composite finished at a 6-week high on the back of news that the world's second-biggest economy could allow local authorities to convert some debt into municipal or provincial bonds.

Among the most active stocks, Industrial Bank and China Everbright Bank elevated 3.3 and 0.2 percent each, while major lenders such as Bank of China surrendered early gains to close 0.5 percent lower. Shenzhen-listed Ping An Bank rose 2.7 percent after delivering a 30 percent annual bump up in 2014's profit.

Carmaker SAIC Motor inched up 0.1 percent after saying on Thursday it would join forces with e-commerce giant Alibaba Group to invest $160 million to develop Internet-connected cars.

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ASX falls 0.7%

Australia's S&P ASX 200 index was one of the biggest losers in Asia on Friday, weighed down by falls in the financial and resources sectors.

National Australia Bank and Westpac pared earlier gains, falling 0.8 and 0.7 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia & New Zealand Banking dipped 0.5 percent. In the resources space, big miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton were lackluster, down 0.4 and 1.5 percent, respectively, despite iron ore prices recovering slightly overnight.

TPG Telecom and iiNet are the top two performers in early trade, rallying 18 and 24.8 percent each, after TPG Telecom announced early on Friday that it will takeover the domestic internet service provider for $1.07 billion.

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Kospi up 0.8%

South Korea's Kospi index broke a four-day losing streak as markets cheered the Bank of Korea's unexpected rate cut on Thursday. Meanwhile, the won was last quoted at 1,128 per dollar.

Shinsegae, the country's second-largest retailer, bounced up nearly 1 percent after a 3.4 percent on-year rise in revenue for the month of February.

Naver closed up 3.7 percent as investors welcomed the news that the country's top internet portal operator will introduce its new instant mobile payment platform in June.