Asian Shares Hit 2012 Highs, China Rallies

ASX 200
CNBC 100

Asian shares touched fresh 16-month highs on Friday as investors awaited U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due later in the day, with sentiment underpinned by signs that China's economy is stabilizing.

The FTSE CNBC Asia 100 rose 0.4 percent.

Japan's Nikkei share average edged down on Friday after hitting a seven-month closing high the previous day, as investors took profits on recent gainers such as exporters ahead of U.S. jobs data.

The Nikkei dropped 0.2 percent to 9,527.3 while the broader Topix added 0.2 percent to 790.24.

Automakers continued to head higher, with Nissan Motor, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor, up between 0.4 and 1.1 percent.

Sharp surged 10.6 percent to a three-month high, extending the previous session's 9.9 percent jump on short covering after Hon Hai Precision Industry's chairman said Qualcomm's tie-up will not affect Hon Hai's position to become Sharp's biggest shareholder.

Digital Garage soared 3.2 percent to a 1-1/2 month high after the IT company raised its outlook for the first half ending December due to strong online ad sales.

China shares rose on Friday and posted strong gains on the week as retail investors returned to the market, banking on signs of economic recovery and reforms from the country's new leaders.

The CSI300 of top Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed stocks rose 2 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.6 percent. The indexes rose 5 percent and 4.1 percent on the week.

Hong Kong shares eased slightly but eked out a 0.7 percent gain for the week on the back of a rebound from 2012 lows for China's domestic indices as retail investors returned to the market on signs of an economic recovery.

The Hang Seng Index closed at 22,191.2, a shade below its highest level for the year. The China Enterprises Index rose 0.5 percent on the day and 2.8 percent on the week.

Shares of insurer PICC had a strong trading debut in Hong Kong, rising as much as 7.8 percent as retail investors who missed out on the initial public offering bought the stock.

Cement producers China National Building Materials and Anhui Conch were among the top gainers on the H-shares index rising 4.4 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.

According to Citigroup and EPFR data, inflows into China-focused ETFs last week amounted to just under $1 billion, and were the bulk of that period's net inflow into Asia.

South Korean shares rose for a third straight session on Friday, led by index heavyweight Samsung Electronics, as investors awaited positive signs in U.S. budget talks and pro-growth policies from China.

The Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) gained 0.4 percent to 1,957.5 points.

Samsung Electronics rose 1.8 percent to a fresh all-time closing high of 1.48 million won ($1,400), lifted by expectations for solid fourth-quarter results from its mobile business. Shares of the world's biggest technology firm by revenue climbed 5.3 percent in the week.

Chipmakers were bullish as SK Hynix rose 3.8 percent on forecasts of a return to operating profit in the fourth quarter.

But auto shares fell, continuing their trend of seesawing since late November's rapid gains on strong sales. Hyundai Motor fell 2 percent while affiliate Kia Motors dropped 1.8 percent.

Hyundai Elevator and Hyundai Merchant Marine both rose more than 11 percent, as investors bet the controlling shareholders of both companies could buy up more shares to cement management control after Hyundai Elevator's second-largest shareholder filed a suit against Hyundai Elevator last month.

Australian shares rose 0.9 percent on Friday to reach a seven-week closing high, with top miners supported by rebounding iron ore prices and the broader market up ahead of China's industrial production data over the weekend.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.9 percent to 4,551 after slipping 0.3 percent on Thursday.

Top global miner BHP Billiton climbed 0.9 percent and rival Rio Tinto added 0.4percent. Gold miner Newcrest jumped 1.7 percent as gold rose on short-covering.

The major banks all advanced, led by a 1 percent rise in National Bank of Australia and Westpac.

Retailers rose ahead of the Christmas season, led by department store David Jones, which gained 1.2 percent. Wesfarmers, owner of supermarket chain Coles, also added 1.2 percent.

Myer Holdings fell 0.5 percent after saying at its annual general meeting that a challenging retail and economic environment is continuing both in Australia and internationally.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged up 0.4 percent to 4,041.5.

In India, the BSE Index and 50-share Nifty Index fell 0.5 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Singapore's Straits Times Index ended up 0.9 percent while Malaysia's KL Composite Index inched up 0.1 percent.