Asian stock markets mostly advanced on a day of relatively light trading on Good Friday, a trading holiday for many stock markets around the globe, as investor sentiment was buoyed after the S&P 500 posted a new record-closing high on Thursday.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei gained 0.50 percent or 61.95 points to close at 12,397.91, and the Chinese Shanghai Composite advanced 0.19 percent or 4.32 points to close at 2,240.62, while the South Korean KOSPI Composite advanced 0.57 percent.
Markets opened on a mixed note despite the positive cues from Wall Street overnight. Overall trading was subdued as many markets were closed for the Good Friday holiday. The U.S., European and some Asian markets, including Hong Kong, Singapore and India, were closed Friday.
Buoyed by encouraging data on the U.S. economic recovery, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 large industrial stocks closed at a new high of 14,578.54 on Thursday, gaining 0.36 percent or 52.38 points. The S&P 500 gained 0.41 percent or 6.34 points to set a record closing high of 1,569.19.
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Thursday that economic activity in the world’s largest economy grew at an annual rate of 0.4 percent in fourth quarter, better than its prior estimate of 0.1 percent growth.
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Meanwhile, official data from Japan on Friday showed that industrial production in the world’s third largest economy unexpectedly declined in February, while consumer prices declined for the fourth straight month.
According to data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan’s industrial production, which measures the total inflation-adjusted value of output from manufacturers, mines and utilities, declined 0.1 percent in February, far worse than economists estimate of a 2.6 percent rise, reinforcing the view that the Bank of Japan will enact fresh easing measures at next week's policy meeting.
“The BOJ will announce something big, at least exceeding market expectations at the next meeting on Apr. 3-4," Isao Kubo, a Tokyo-based equity strategist at Nissay Asset Management Corp., which oversees about 5 trillion yen, told Bloomberg. "You may think the rally is excessive, but Japanese stocks have simply gone through a major adjustment catching up with overseas stocks.”
In Japan, Sharp Corp. gained 1.49 percent and Tokyo Electron Ltd. surged 4.39 percent, while Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co. Ltd. climbed 11.06 percent.
Panasonic Corp. shares tumbled 7.10 percent after the company announced restructuring plans for its money-losing segments. Panasonic also said that it has decided to apply for voluntary delisting of its American Depositary Shares from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).