- It's been a busy week for Asian stocks but Friday's trade lacked direction
- Local data showed New Zealand manufacturing thriving, consumer confidence not so much
- Oil prices steadied, gold seems on course for a week of modest gains
Asian stocks endured a listless Friday session which lacked either a strong Wall Street lead or any compelling local economic news.
That's not to say there wasn't any though. New Zealand's manufacturing sector turned in a strong February, but the country's consumer confidence slipped back even though index compilers ANZ said that underlying trends remained encouraging.
The Nikkei 225 ended down 0.5%, with Chinese stocks off by a little more. Hong Kong's Hang Seng hit is highest point since August 2015, and even though it failed to hold up it is on course for its biggest weekly gain since last September (3.2%). Investors are reportedly reassured that US rate increases will be gradual, while inflows from the mainland are also helping.
Australia's ASX poked above the psychologically important 5,800 level but couldn't hold that into the close.
It ended up 0.2% with the financial sector leading gains.
The US Dollar wasn't a lot lower on the session but the Dollar Index which tracks it against a basket of major rivals looks set for a 1% drop for the week.
Crude oil prices were little changed in Asia but look set for a small weekly rise. Both Brent and US benchmark crude were up by about 0.2% apiece. Gold prices hovered near one-week highs, buoyed up by surprise US Dollar weakness in the wake of Wednesday's interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve. Although the central bank stuck with its baseline expectation of two more increases this year, many in the markets were clearly banking on a more hawkish tone than they got.
The remainder of global trading Friday will see Eurozone trade data released, with the University of Michigan's consumer confidence roundup and the Baker-Hughes US oil rig count rounding out the week.
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--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research
Contact and follow David on Twitter: @DavidCottleFX \ original source
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