HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets were mixed Friday following strong gains on Wall Street, with Tokyo enjoying a significant bump due to the dollar’s rise against the yen.
Tokyo closed up 0.79 per cent, or 152.68 points, at 15,291.64, Sydney rose 29.07 points, or 0.54 per cent, to end at 5,412.2, while Seoul fell 0.31 per cent, or 5.96 points, to finish at 1,925.69.
Shanghai ended flat slipping 0.14 points to 2,302.28, while Hong Kong was down 0.30 per cent in afternoon trade, after China Construction Bank reported its worst quarter in more than five years and China’s National Bureau of Statistics revealed mainland house prices fell again in September.
In Tokyo, stocks climbed as the dollar – trading at its strongest levels in two weeks – rose into the 108-yen range, with risk sentiment lifted by encouraging Chinese manufacturing data and solid readings for eurozone business activity on Thursday.
A weak yen is positive for Japanese exporters as it makes them more competitive abroad and inflates profits when repatriated.
“The weaker yen should naturally benefit Japan stocks, and help to highlight the fact that shares are looking cheap from many perspectives,” said Mutsumi Kagawa, senior global strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.
Despite Tokyo’s rise, investors will be keeping a close eye on the situation in New York where officials on Friday confirmed the city’s first known case of the Ebola virus.
A doctor who recently returned to New York from treating Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive on Thursday for the deadly virus.
In the US, stocks bolted higher Thursday following a series of mostly strong earnings reports from Dow members Caterpillar, 3M and others.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 1.32 per cent while the broad-based
S&P 500 gained 1.23 per cent.
“The industrials are leading the market much higher,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital.
“The economic news was somewhat mixed. But we did have very good earnings.”
The greenback bought 108.00 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade, slipping from 108.27 yen in New York but still well above 107.24 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday.
The euro bought 136.70 yen, down from 136.93 yen in US trade, while it inched up to $1.2656 from $1.2647.
On oil markets, prices resumed their downtrend in Asian trade.
The US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery was down 40 cents at $81.69 a barrel in afternoon trade and Brent crude for December dropped 29 cents to $86.54.