Asian equities trade cautiously following recovery on Wall Street overnight

  • Asian markets trade mixed on Friday
  • Wall Street closed higher overnight, recovering after its worst session of the year on Wednesday
  • Toshiba shares gain on memory chip arm sale news
  • Japanese automakers in the spotlight after agreeing to settlement involving Takata airbags

Asian markets traded sideways on Friday, following a higher lead from Wall Street as markets in the U.S. took a breather after their worst day of the year.

A pedestrian walks past a stock quotation board flashing the key Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in front of a securities company in Tokyo on May 18, 2017.
Kazuhiro Nogi | AFP | Getty Images
A pedestrian walks past a stock quotation board flashing the key Nikkei index of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in front of a securities company in Tokyo on May 18, 2017.

The Nikkei 225 reversed earlier losses to trade 0.19 percent or 36.9 points higher to close at 19,590.76. South Korea's Kospi edged up by 0.07 points or 1.66 points to finish at 2,288.45.

Down Under, Australia's benchmark ASX 200 index declined 0.19 percent or 10.912 points to close at 5,727.4, largely driven by its financials and industrials sub-indexes.

Greater Chinese markets were mixed, with the Hang Seng Index higher by 0.32 percent at 3:25 pm HK/SIN. The Shanghai Composite added 0.03 percent or 0.7896 points to finish at 3,090.9286 while the Shenzhen Composite closed 0.123 percent or 2.2794 points down at 1,853.714.

ASX 200
CNBC 100

Investors are also likely to watch events unfolding in Brazil after the country's president, Michel Temer, was linked to an ongoing corruption probe. The country's benchmark Bovespa index fell more than 8 percent while major Brazilian stocks tumbled.

In corporate news, Japan's Toshiba was back in the spotlight on news that state-backed fund Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) would sell a fifth of its shares in Renesas Electronics ahead of the sale of Toshiba's chip unit. The move would add to the coffers of INCJ, which is expected by market watchers to bid for Toshiba's memory chip unit. Shares of Toshiba ended the session 3.29 percent higher at 232.5 yen a stock.

Meanwhile, Bain Capital's bid for Toshiba's memory chip arm is likely to leave a stake of the unit in the hands of Toshiba, the Nikkei reported. This stake could possibly be controlled by the Japanese conglomerate or INCJ. The move is an attempt to "simplify the antitrust review process," the Nikkei said.

Japanese automakers also made the headlines, with Toyota, Subaru and Mazda agreeing to settle a lawsuit over their use of faulty Takata airbags. Toyota shares ended 0.59 percent higher, Mazda Motor rose 1.39 percent and Subaru shares closed up by 0.32 percent.

Shares of automotive parts maker Takata surged 20.25 percent on the back of news of the settlement to end at 475 yen a stock.

Major Australian financials traded lower across the board, with ANZ ending the session down by 1.89 percent at A$28.50 a stock. Westpac tumbled 0.99 percent to A$30.85 a stock and AMP declined 0.97 percent to finish at A$5.08.

The dollar index ticked upwards after tumbling from the 99 handle last week. The dollar last traded against a basket of rival currencies at 97.654. Dollar/yen also recovered to trade at 111.45, off the low of 110.51 seen in the previous session.

The euro/dollar receded from a six-month high hit earlier this week to trade at $1.1137, but remained well above the $1.08 handle seen last week.

"The euro, while losing some ground for the session against the partially-recovering dollar, seems to be getting some support from an emerging view that the June 8 European Central Bank (ECB) meeting will sign off on a less dour outlook," National Australia Bank Economist David de Garis said in a Friday note.

In energy news, oil prices rose after some producer countries indicated they would extend output cuts. Benchmark Brent crude gained 0.82 percent to trade at $52.94 a barrel while U.S. crude added 0.89 percent to trade at $49.80.

Stateside, major indexes closed higher on Thursday after stocks experienced their worst day of 2017, with the Nasdaq gaining 0.73 percent to close at 6,055.13.