Asian stocks headed higher for the first time this week early Friday after U.S. indexes eked out a small gain, their first advance since last week's meeting of oil producers sent oil and commodities lower, roiling global markets. Markets expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to raise interest rates for the first time in nine years next week.
Japan's Nikkei 222 and New Zealand's NZ 50 both rose 0.5 percent. Australia's ASX 200, which has been battered this week by the decline in energy and commodity prices, Singapore's STI and Korea's KOSPI all gained 0.4 percent.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.5 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 0.2 percent, and the Nasdaq composite 0.1 percent.
Oil fell below $40 a barrel this week, a six-year low, after Saudi Arabia last Friday said it wouldn't cut production to boost prices. Falling oil prices have hurt prospects for energy and commodities companies, as well as many industries dependent on them, raising questions about the global economy. Also last Friday, better-than-expected U.S. jobs data for November cemented expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week, after deeming the economy has recovered well enough from the 2007-09 global financial crisis.
One trader and one fund manager discounted yesterday's gain in the U.S.
“There’s been a lot of positioning ahead of the Fed with people taking down exposure ahead of a likely rate increase,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles, as reported by Bloomberg. “We continue to be in a trading range, we’re at the low end of that range.”
"People are still worried about the Fed and what's going to happen next week. It's been a tough week and rallies just don't stick," said J.J. Feldman, portfolio manager at Miracle Mile Advisors in Los Angeles, as reported by Reuters.