Asia markets up as Tokyo’s Nikkei closes at a 21-year high

HONG KONG (AFP) – Japan’s main stock index finished at its highest in more than two decades yesterday, leading broad gains across Asian equities following another record Wall Street close.

The rally came as the euro extended gains after Catalonia’s leader stepped back from the brink in a standoff with Spain over independence, though analysts warned of uncertainty in one of the eurozone’s biggest economies.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index finished the day 0.3 per cent higher at 20,881.27 – its best finish since December 1996, the year Prince Charles and Diana divorced, Bill Clinton won his second term as US president and Nintendo launched its Pokemon brand.

Japan’s corporates have enjoyed bumper profits and the economy is enjoying its best growth spurt for years, while equities have also been supported by a global rally that has seen Wall Street chalk up several record finishes in recent weeks.

A woman walks past an electronic board showing Hong Kong share index outside a local bank in Hong Kong. – AP

Several other markets in the region are also sitting at multi-year highs, helped by hopes that US President Donald Trump’s proposed big-spending and tax-cutting promises will be implemented and fire up the world economy.

The Nikkei has rebounded from below the 15,000 mark in June last year after Britain’s vote to exit the EU pummelled world markets.

Sydney ended 0.6 per cent higher, Seoul jumped one per cent and Shanghai put on 0.2 per cent.

Wellington edged up 0.3 per cent but Hong Kong sank 0.4 per cent.

In early European trade London and Frankfurt each rose 0.1 per cent while Paris was flat. Madrid jumped 1.6 per cent.