By RTT News, March 08, 2013, 04:18:00 AM EDT
(RTTNews.com) - Asian stocks rose broadly on Friday, with the markets in Japan and Hong Kong leading the way, as the yen fell across the board on expectations of aggressive easing policies from the Bank of Japan and data out of the U.S., China and Japan boosted optimism the global economy is gaining traction. With Wednesday's ADP report and Thursday's jobless claims data beating expectations, investors looked ahead to the U.S. non-farm payrolls report due later in the global day.
Analysts expect the U.S. jobs report to show an increase of about 171,000 jobs in February compared to the addition of 157,000 jobs in January. The unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 7.8 percent from 7.9 percent.
Japan's Nikkei index set a seven-session winning streak, climbing 2.6 percent to 12,284, the level held before the failure of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008, bolstered by the yen's renewed weakness amid expectations the Bank of Japan will launch aggressive easing measures under the new BOJ leadership. The broader Topix index rallied 1.6 percent. Realtors, tire makers and consumer finance firms led the gainers, while utilities and airline stocks ended on a subdued note.
Heavyweight Fast Retailing let the broader market higher, rising 9.8 percent to a record high, while Honda Motor rose 2.7 percent, Mazda Motor jumped 5.8 percent, tech shares Tokyo Electron and Advantest added 3-5 percent and Olympus advanced 4.3 percent, extending Thursday's 5.5 percent rally. Tire maker Bridgestone soared 5.8 percent on hopes for a record operating profit in the current fiscal.
Realty stocks like Sumitomo Realty & Development and Mitsubishi Estate rose
4-5 percent on expectations that aggressive monetary stimulus to prevent deflation in the country would push up underlying land values. Sekisui House soared 15 percent after the homebuilder reported a 60 percent surge in fiscal-year net profit.
In economic news, Japan's gross domestic product was revised up to show flat growth in the fourth quarter from a preliminary 0.1 percent contraction, signaling the world's third-largest economy is returning to growth. Another report released today showed that Japan's trade deficit widened in January to 1.479 trillion yen from 567.6 billion in the previous month despite an upturn in exports.
China's Shanghai Composite index eased 0.2 percent as investors treaded cautiously ahead of a slew of data due tomorrow on inflation, industrial output and retail sales. Meanwhile, data from the General Administration of Customs showed that Chinese exports rose 21.8 percent in February from a year earlier, much faster than the expected 8.1 percent increase. Imports declined a more-than-estimated 15.2 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $15.25 billion in February contrary to expectations for a deficit of $6.9 billion. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rallied 1.4 percent after China's export growth beat forecasts by a wide margin.
Australian shares rose modestly, led by miners as Chinese trade data strengthened expectations of a steady recovery in the world's second-largest economy. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.3 percent. Global miner BHP Billiton rose 0.8 percent, while rival Rio Tinto rallied 1.8 percent. Gold Miner Newcrest rose 1.4 percent as gold traded in a tight range in Asian trading ahead of today's closely-watched U.S. employment report.
Among the major banks, NAB, Commonwealth and ANZ rose between 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent, but Westpac slipped 0.1 percent. Leighton Holdings added 0.3 percent after winning a contract worth A$120 million to work on a major rail extension in Sydney. Retailers finished mostly higher, with Woolworths and Wesfarmers gaining about 0.7 percent each on optimism the economic recovery is picking up steam.
South Korea's Kospi average ended almost on a flat note due to heightened political tension with North Korea. The benchmark Kospi average edged up 2 points or 0.08 percent to 2,006. President Park Geun-hye vowed to "sternly deal with" North Korean provocations saying any country would face "self-destruction" if it concentrates only on strengthening its military power when its people are starving.
Meanwhile, the 15-member United Nations Security Council voted to unanimously approve a resolution to impose tough new sanctions on North Korea, to punish the reclusive nation for its recent nuclear test. The resolution imposes new financial sanctions aimed at blocking financial transactions that support North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, cracking down cash transfers, and cutting Pyongyang's access to luxury goods.
New Zealand shares rose, lifting the benchmark NZX-50 index up half a percent to a record high after Warehouse Group announced it had almost doubled its half-year profit, boosted by better sales growth and one-off gains. Shares of the nation's biggest listed retailer soared 8.3 percent, while jeweler Michael Hill International rose 2.3 percent.
Technology firm Diligent Board Members Services jumped 10.6 percent to a record high, online accounting software firm Xero rallied 5.9 percent and utility Contact Energy added 1.3 percent. Infratil rose 1.1 percent after the company said it along with the New Zealand Superannuation Fund plan to sell up to 60 percent of Z Energy shares in a public share sale in the third quarter of this year.
India's benchmark Sensex was moving up 1.2 percent, extending gains for a fourth straight session, led by banks on expectations the Reserve Bank of India will cut interest rates later this month.
Elsewhere, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was up half a percent, Malaysia's KLSE Composite was gaining 0.2 percent and the Taiwan Weighted average added 0.7 percent, while Singapore's Straits Times index was down 0.3 percent.
U.S. stocks rose modestly overnight after a report from the Labor Department showed an unexpected drop in weekly jobless claims against expectations for a rise, adding to optimism about Friday's monthly jobs report. Another report from the Commerce Department showing a wider-than-expected U.S. trade deficit in January limited further upside. The Dow edged up 0.2 percent to reach a fresh record high, the S&P 500 also rose 0.2 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq added 0.3 percent.
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