Asia-Pacific Markets Climb, Indexes in Japan and South Korea Close Up More Than 1% Each

JUNG YEON-JE | AFP via Getty Images
  •  Asia-Pacific markets drifted higher Friday, taking cues from Wall Street where U.S. stocks climbed to record highs overnight.
  • Overnight, the S&P 500 jumped 1% and hit a new closing high, surpassing its previous record from Feb. 16, while a rebound in tech shares resumed.
  • U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans.

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets drifted higher Friday, taking cues from Wall Street where U.S. stocks climbed to record highs overnight.

Australian shares rose as the ASX 200 added 0.79%, or 52.9 points, to 6,766.80 as most sectors finished higher. Energy and materials subindexes gained 1.47% and 1.62%, respectively as shares of oil stocks and major miners mostly advanced.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 1.73%, or 506.19 points, to 29,717.83 on Friday. The Topix index finished up 1.36%, or 26.14 points, at 1,951.06.

South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.35%, or 40.69 points, to 3,054.39 as tech shares gained: Samsung Electronics was up 0.98%, SK Hynix rose 2.19% and LG Electronics added 3.39%. Elsewhere, the Kosdaq gained 1.93%, or 17.48 points, to 925.49.

Chinese mainland shares reversed earlier losses and closed higher: The Shanghai composite rose 0.47%, or 16.25 points, to 3,453.08 and the Shenzhen component added 0.22%, or 30.66 points, to 13,897.03.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index fell 1.62% in late-afternoon trade.

Overnight, the S&P 500 advanced 1% and hit a new closing high, surpassing its previous record from Feb. 16, while a rebound in tech shares resumed.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank said it expects to increase bond purchases significantly next quarter. Bond yields in the euro zone have been ticking higher since February, in line with the yield on U.S. Treasury notes.

Investors worried that rising bond yields could derail the economic recovery in Europe by increasing the borrowing costs for countries that are already struggling with the coronavirus crisis.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar rose 0.33% to 91.722 against a basket of its peers on Friday afternoon during Asia trading hours. The gauge rose from an earlier low of 91.400 but still fell short of climbing to levels above 92 reached earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 108.98 per dollar, weakening from around 108.48, while the Australian dollar fell 0.44% to $0.7753.

Oil prices slipped Friday afternoon. U.S. crude was down 0.7% at $65.56 a barrel while global benchmark Brent dropped 0.6% to $69.21.

Overnight, energy prices jumped more than 2% — a weaker greenback and the prospect of stimulus measures in the United States boosted sentiment in the commodity market, according to some analysts. Falling crude inventories and expectations that a supply glut will ease also helped sentiment.

"Crude oil extended recent gains amid further signs the recovery in fuel consumption is continuing to strengthen," analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note, adding that a full recovery remained some way off.

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