Asian equities close mixed after US stocks rally; Korean tech shines

  • Asian markets closed mixed on Friday
  • Toshiba said it did not intend to sell its PC business despite media reports suggesting otherwise, Reuters said
  • Tesla suppliers in Taiwan finished the session with gains after the automaker unveiled new electric vehicle models earlier in the day

Asian shares closed mixed on Friday following the firmer lead on Wall Street in the last session. Japanese and Hong Kong markets ended the session with gains, but were off their session highs.

Markets on the move 

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent, or 45.68 points, to close at 22,396.80 as broad gains were seen across sectors. Tech names closed mixed: Sony rose 0.73 percent and Nintendo ended higher by 0.09 percent after trading higher by more than 1 percent earlier.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi pared early gains to close 0.03 percent below the flat line at 2,533.99. Automakers sold off after the Korean won traded near 13-month highs, but tech names made gains, with SK Hynix rising 0.61 percent. Samsung Electronics closed higher by 0.07 percent after the company on Thursday announced an organizational reshuffle.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.23 percent to close at 5,957.25 as the health care sub-index gained 0.7 percent by the end of the day.

Greater China markets were mixed. The Hang Seng Index rose 0.62 percent to close at 29,199.04 while mainland markets edged down. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.5 percent to end at 3,382.34 and the Shenzhen Composite fell 2.78 percent to end at 1,954.30.

Oil-related stocks in Asia closed mixed following Thursday news that Norway's sovereign wealth fund intended to drop oil and gas sector companies from its benchmark index. Europe's index of oil-related shares had fallen to its lowest in a month on that news.

MSCI's broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan rose 0.55 percent by 4:09 p.m. HK/SIN.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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The mixed performance in Asian equity markets came on the back of indexes sliding earlier this week. U.S. and European stocks had finished the Thursday session higher.

"This round of selloff was mainly driven by profit-taking activities and market noise, whereas fundamental elements remained intact," Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a morning note.

Stateside, equities rose after the House tax reform bill was passed and as investors digested better-than-expected quarterly earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 23,458.36 after rising 0.8 percent, or 187.08 points, on the day, led by advances in Wal-Mart and enterprise IT company Cisco.

The lead up

U.S. House Republicans on Thursday passed a bill to cut taxes on businesses and individuals, the biggest step yet in the GOP's effort to alter the country's tax system. The House plan cuts the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and lessens the number of personal tax brackets to four from seven.

Republicans are attempting to pass their tax reform plans by Christmas, but Senate Republicans, who have a less robust majority than in the House, will first have to pass their version of the bill.

The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of six currencies, edged down after a report from the Wall Street Journal said Special Counsel Robert Mueller had subpoenad President Donald Trump's campaign. The index stood at 93.613 at 3:14 p.m. HK/SIN after falling as low as 93.508 during Asian trade. Against the yen, the greenback pared gains made in the last session to trade at 112.49.

Meanwhile, U.S. data released on Thursday was upbeat. Industrial production grew 0.9 percent in October, compared to the 0.5 percent forecast.

Corporate news

Toshiba said reports that it was looking to sell its personal computer operations were untrue, Reuters reported on Friday. The Nikkei had reported earlier that Toshiba intended to sell its personal computer operations to Taiwan's Asustrek Computer. Toshiba did not immediately respond to CNBC's emailed request for comment and shares erased early losses to close up 1.04 percent.

Meanwhile, Toyota announced Friday that it expects to introduce an electric vehicle model in China in 2020. The company also said it intended to sell around 100,000 vehicles that use China-made hybrid units. Shares closed down 0.65 percent.

Tesla suppliers in Taiwan ended the Friday session with strong gains following the unveiling of the company's electric semi truck earlier in the day. Tesla also revealed a surprise new version of its Roadster model. Auto parts maker Hota Industrial closed up 3.46 percent and wire harness manufacturer Bizlink rose 5.09 percent by the end of the session.

Automaker Subaru, meanwhile, said it would was likely to sustain around 20 billion yen ($177 million) in costs over an inspection scandal in Japan, Reuters said. Subaru shares were off 0.3 percent by the end of the session.

And in Australia, regulators approved betting operator Tabcorp Holdings' merger with Tatts Group on the condition that the former sells its Odyssey Gaming business. Tabcorp shares finished the session up 4.84 percent and Tatts rose 2.33 percent.

The commodities trade 

Oil prices edged up after once again slipping on Thursday. Investors weighed a mix of factors, including increasing U.S. production and inventories, and hopes that output cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would be extended.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude tacked on 0.44 percent to trade at $55.38 per barrel after inching lower in the last session. Brent crude futures were flat at $61.36.

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.