Asian stock markets mostly advanced Friday as sentiment turned positive following better-than-expected U.S. economic data and after Haruhiko Kuroda, who is known to be in favor of aggressive monetary easing, was confirmed as the next Bank of Japan (BOJ) governor.
Japanese benchmark Nikkei surged 1.45 percent or 179.76 points to 12,560.95, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.11 percent or 25.98 points to 22,645.16 and China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.91 percent or 20.56 points to 2,290.83, while South Korean KOSPI Composite declined 0.78 percent and India's BSE Sensex slipped 0.23 percent.
Markets mostly opened on a positive note, following the overnight gains from the Wall Street as better-than-expected jobless claims data pointed to an ongoing gradual recovery in the U.S. labor market and pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its eighth consecutive closing high.
The Labor Department said Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined by 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 332,000, the second lowest level in last five years, in the week ending March 9, while analysts expected claims to rise to 350,000 from a revised 342,000 in the previous week. The encouraging jobs data along with recent better-than-expected reports on factory activity, services sector and the housing market reinforced the view that the world’s largest economy's recovery is gaining steam.
“There’s a level of confidence to say that the economic momentum, albeit tepid, is still positive. That supports an asset allocation move out of bonds and into equities. China remains a risk, with increasing concerns about bubbles developing in the property market,” Tim Schroeders, who helps manage $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd. in Melbourne, told Bloomberg.
Sentiment was also supported on news that the upper house of Japan’s parliament has approved the nomination of Haruhiko Kuroda, former governor for Asia Development Bank and an aggressive advocate of monetary easing policy, as the next BOJ governor, along with deputy governor nominees Kikuo Iwata and Hiroshi Nakaso. All three were approved by the lower house, Thursday.
Japanese Nikkei surged, led by gains from export companies’ shares. Toyota Motor Corp. advanced 1.41 percent and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. gained 2.55 percent while Sony Corp. climbed 10.98 percent.
HSBC Holdings Plc gained 2.06 percent and Standard Chartered Plc advanced in Hong Kong, while China Citic Bank Corp Ltd advanced 2.91 percent and China Merchants Bank Co. Ltd. rose 0.32 percent in Shanghai.
In Seoul, Hyundai Motor Co. surged 3.77 percent and Kia Motors Corp. gained 2.07 percent, while Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. plunged 2.63 percent.