TOKYO (AFP) – Asian stock markets mostly edged up in thin holiday trade yesterday, with Tokyo’s benchmark index surging nearly two per cent as investors regained some confidence.
A weaker yen and continued gains on Wall Street last week helped push the bellwether Nikkei 225 index up 1.97 per cent or 428.96 points to close at 22,149.21.
The broader Topix index was up 2.17 per cent or 37.78 points at 1,775.15.
Stocks in Sydney and Seoul also ended higher, but trading was generally subdued in the region as many major markets, including in China and Hong Kong, remain closed for the Lunar New Year break.
“Japanese stocks this week will likely test a rebound” from sharp drops earlier in the month, Okasan Online Securities said in a note.
“Given falling volatility both in Japan and in the United States, we can expect a calm market,” it said.
The dollar, which fell below 106 to hit the lowest since November 2016 against the yen on Friday, rebounded to 106.53, compared with 106.25 in New York late Friday.
“Investors were relieved to see the yen stop rising,” said Toshikazu Horiuchi, a broker at IwaiCosmo Securities.
“They will remain cautious about foreign exchange rates for the time being” as the dollar was still hovering around the 106 yen level, Horiuchi told AFP.
Market sentiment was also boosted by a relatively positive end to the week in the US and Europe.
The Dow squeezed out a positive close, up 0.1 per cent to 25,219.38 before a long weekend, the sixth straight positive close for the blue-chip index as it notched up its best weekly gain since November 2016.
European stocks were also broadly higher, with analysts saying trader optimism was rising, encouraging investors to jump back in after a dizzying price drops.
In the markets that were open in Asia yesterday, the Australian ASX closed up 0.64 per cent while New Zealand closed down 0.12 per cent.
South Korea’s KOSPI was up 0.87 per cent.
Oil prices were up in Asian trade, but analysts said gains would continue to be capped by concerns that record-high US crude production will negate the impact of OPEC-led output cuts.
“As crude oil prices waddle in a woeful state, industry observers will focus on US production as guidance for crude oil prices,” said Avtar Sandu, an energy analyst with Phillip Futures in Singapore.
Traders are waiting for further US commercial crude inventories and production data due to be released today by the industry group American Petroleum Institute and tomorrow by the US Department of Energy. / AFP / Borneo Bulletin. COURTESY: The Borneo Bulletin / February 20, 2018