Asian stocks opened higher Friday after U.S. stocks were lifted by higher oil prices and strong durable goods orders. Japanese stocks rose even as Sharp Corp. slumped and the government reported inflation fell back to zero, further away from target.
Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.6 percent even as Sharp Corp. plunged 13 percent. Taiwan's Foxconn said a plan to buy Sharp, which the Osaka company announced earlier on Thursday, was not yet a done deal. South Korea's KOSPI gained 0.2 percent and Singapore's STI 0.9 percent. Australia's ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent.
Japan's core inflation fell from 0.1 percent in December, the government reported Friday. The Bank of Japan has been targeting 2 percent, to encourage consumers and businesses to make purchases rather than put these off, believing prices won't rise much anyway. The bank has moved the target date for that from 2015 to 2016 to 2017. Previous signs of the weak economy have raised speculation of more stimulus, boosting stocks.
Other Asian economic reports due Friday include Singapore industrial production and China property prices.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Standard & Poor's 500 and Nasdaq Composite all rose 0.9 percent to 1.3 percent.
Oil rose, reversing earlier losses, after Venezuela confirmed a mid-March meeting with Saudi Arabia, Russia and Qatar. The four oil producers have been at the forefront of so-far-fruitless discussions to cut output or freeze production levels in order to boost prices.
The U.S. oil benchmark gained 2.9 percent to $33.07 a barrel, the global benchmark rose 2.6 percent to $35.29 a barrel, hitting a three-week high, Reuters reported. Oil's fall from over $100 a barrel in mid-2014 has hurt stocks of oil companies and the many industries that supply them around the world. It's also weighed on banks, on speculation of rising oil company defaults. Oil price gains have tended to lift stocks.
Meanwhile, U.S. durable goods orders — from appliances to computers to cars to factory equipment to aircraft — rose a stronger than expected 4.9 percent in January, indicating consumer and business confidence. They came from a decline in December.
“We had some encouraging macro news that gave the markets the impetus to move higher," Alan Gayle, senior strategist for Atlanta-based Ridgeworth Investments, told Bloomberg. "After a tough down market, there’s some budding optimism that the worst is perhaps over.”