Asia Markets

South Korea's Kospi gains nearly 10% in first trading week of 2021; Hyundai Motor pops

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Key Points
  • South Korea's Kospi led gains among major regional markets as it jumped 3.97% to close at 3,152.18. The index has had a largely positive start to 2021, gaining about 9.7% from its final close in 2020 after just one trading week this year.
  • Shares of automaker Hyundai Motor soared 19.42% following a local media report of cooperation between the firm and Cupertino-based tech giant Apple on developing electric vehicles and batteries.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other areas on Thursday in a bid to combat a rise in coronavirus infections.

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Friday after stocks on Wall Street cruised to new record highs overnight.

South Korea's Kospi led gains among major regional markets as it jumped 3.97% to close at 3,152.18. As the first trading week of 2021 comes to an end, the index has already jumped about 9.7% from its final close in 2020.

Shares of South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor soared 19.42% following a local media report of a deal between the firm and Cupertino-based tech giant Apple on developing electric vehicles and batteries.

Hyundai Motor told CNBC earlier it was still in talks with Apple.

"We understand that Apple is in discussion with a variety of global automakers, including Hyundai Motor. As the discussion is at its early stage, nothing has been decided," Hyundai Motor told CNBC's Chery Kang in a statement.

However, the automaker later released a subsequent statement that avoided mentioning Apple, instead citing "diverse companies" that have talked with Hyundai about developing autonomous electric vehicles.

Other stocks in South Korea's auto sector also gained, with Hyundai Mobis surging 18.06% while Kia Motors jumped 8.41%.

Elsewhere in Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 2.36% to close at 28,139.03 while the Topix index gained 1.57% to finish its trading day at 1,854.94. Japan's household spending rose 1.1% year-on-year in November, according to government data released Friday. That was higher than economists' median estimate of a 1.5% decrease, according to Reuters.

Shares in Australia advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 up 0.68% to close at 6,757.90.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.59%.

In coronavirus developments, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and three other areas on Thursday in a bid to combat a rise in coronavirus infections.

The World Health Organization on Thursday warned of a tipping point in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, amid fears over more infectious variants of the virus that have contributed to a surge of infections.

China telecom firms take another hit

Shares of three Chinese telecommunications firms in Hong Kong fell once again after index giant MSCI announced it will delete the firms' Hong Kong-listed securities from some of its indexes.

By the Friday market close in Hong Kong, shares of China Mobile fell 4.16% while China Unicom slipped 0.9%. China Telecom declined 3.45%.

The MSCI development came on the back of the New York Stock Exchange's announcement that it will delist the U.S.-listed stocks of those three Chinese telecommunication giants to comply with an executive order signed by President Donald Trump last year.

The broader Hang Seng index in Hong Kong gained 1.2% to close at 27,878.22. Mainland Chinese stocks dipped on the day: the Shanghai composite shed 0.17% to 3,570.11 while the Shenzhen component declined 0.242% to 15,319.29.

Wall Street jumps to new records

Overnight on Wall Street, the Nasdaq Composite popped 2.6% to close at 13,067.48 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 211.73 points to end its trading day at 31,041.13. The S&P 500 gained 1.5% to close at 3,803.79.

Thursday's gains market the Nasdaq's first-ever close above 13,000 and was also the first time the Dow and S&P 500 finished a session above 31,000 and 3,800, respectively.

The U.S. Congress confirmed the election of Joe Biden as president early Thursday, a day after supporters of Donald Trump invaded the U.S. Capitol.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 90.080 after seeing an earlier low of 89.806.

The Japanese yen traded at 103.93 per dollar after weakening from levels below 103.2 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7762, having seen levels above $0.78 earlier this week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 0.74% to $54.78 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also gained 0.59% to $51.13 per barrel.

— CNBC's Sam Meredith and Chery Kang contributed to this report.