Asia markets were largely positive on the final trading day of the week, following record highs on Wall Street.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 pared some of its earlier gains but still ended the trading week higher by 0.82 percent at 23,869.93, with the insurance sector rising by 2.17 percent. The Topix index also saw gains of 0.92 percent to close at 1,804.02 — its highest point in almost four months.
The moves in Japan followed a data release which showed that its nationwide core consumer price index for August rose 0.9 percent compared to a year ago. It was in line with expectations from a Reuters poll but still off the Bank of Japan’s inflation target of 2 percent.
“It will be difficult for the Japan inflation (rate) to reach 2 percent before the consumption tax rate is raised,” Takuji Okubo, chief economist at Japan Macro Advisors, told CNBC, in reference to the Japanese government’s plan to raise the consumption tax rate from 8 to 10 percent in 2019.
South Korea’s Kospi also saw gains of 0.68 percent to close at 2,339.17, but memory chipmaker SK Hynix’s stock weakened by 3.03 percent.
Down Under, the ASX 200 ended the trading week higher by 0.41 percent at 6,194.6, as the financial sector advanced by 0.14 percent with most major bank stocks rising. AMP was up by 0.31 percent while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose by 0.14 percent.
In the Greater China region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index extended gains of 1.65 percent to close at 27,930.53. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite jumped 2.5 percent to close at 2,797.49 while the Shenzhen composite also gained 1.76 percent to 1,445.11.
Overnight in market action stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared to a record high — its first since January — as it gained 251.22 points to close at 26,656.98. The S&P 500 also saw a new high, rising around 0.8 percent to close at 2,930.75. The Nasdaq Composite advanced by about 1 percent to 8,028.232
China’s commerce ministry said Thursday it hopes the U.S. would take steps to change its behavior. The ministry’s comments came after the two largest economies in the world slapped fresh tariffs on each other’s goods earlier in the week.
In currency news, the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 93.927 as of 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN, still hovering close to a two-and-a-half month low.
The Japanese yen slid further against the dollar at 112.76, while the Australian dollar saw gains at $0.7298, as of 3:12 p.m. HK/SIN.
In the oil markets, prices saw gains in the afternoon of Asian trade. The global benchmark Brent crude futures contract traded up by 0.38 percent at $79.00 per barrel while U.S. crude futures climbed 0.21 percent at $70.47 per barrel, as of 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN.