Asian shares rose on Friday after US equities were buoyed by a rebound in technology stocks, while markets in Seoul were underpinned by optimism as leaders of North and South Korea held their first summit in over a decade.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4 per cent, but still looked set to shed 1.2 per cent for the week.
South Korea’s KOSPI briefly rose more than 1.0 per cent to a one-month high, helped by hopes that the summit could ease tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme and pave the way for the North and South to end their decades-long conflict.
South Korean equities later pared their gains to 0.6 per cent, while the South Korean won rose 0.4 per cent against the dollar in onshore trade.
“The easing of tension and the possibility of a peace treaty coming on the horizon are bullish for the won and KOSPI,” said Mingze Wu, FX trader of global payments for INTL FCStone Ltd in Singapore.
“However, ... it will be difficult to imagine a new bullish trend emerging just from this,” Wu said.
Japan’s Nikkei share average rose 0.6 per cent and touched a two-month peak at one point, getting a boost as chip-related firms rallied after brisk earnings forecasts from Advantest and Kyocera.
The firmer tone of Asian equities came after each of Wall Street’s major indexes rose 1.0 per cent or more on Thursday, boosted by solid earnings results and a rebound in technology stocks.
Amazon.com Inc shares jumped more than 6 per cent in after-market trading after the online retailer reported a 43 per cent surge in first-quarter revenue.
Facebook surged 9.1 per cent on Thursday after posting an impressive earnings beat, which appeared to calm worries about the fallout from its use of consumer data.
The US 10-year Treasury yield fell 2 basis points in Asia to 2.973 per cent, down from a four-year high of 3.035 per cent set earlier in the week.
The US 10-year yield had edged lower on Thursday as buyers emerged in the wake of a sell-off fuelled by worries over growing US debt issuance and rising costs.
The euro languished near a 3-1/2-month low, having taken a hit after the European Central Bank on Thursday struck a dovish tone as it kept interest rates unchanged.
ECB chief Mario Draghi acknowledged evidence of a “pull-back” from exceptional growth readings seen around the turn of the year, although the central bank sought to bolster expectations for a gradual withdrawal of its monetary stimulus.
The euro edged up 0.1 per cent to $1.2110. On Thursday it hit a trough of $1.20965, its lowest level since January 12.
Weaker-than-expected economic data out of the euro zone has cast some doubt as to how quickly the ECB can head toward policy normalisation and weighed on the euro recently.
“The euro zone’s economy doesn’t seem to have the type of momentum it had last year,” said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
The dollar, which has drawn strength from the recent rise in US bond yields, held steady against a basket of six major currencies at 91.527. The dollar index had set a 3-1/2 month high of around 91.637 on Thursday.
The yen showed little reaction after the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy steady, as widely expected.
Reuters reported that against the yen, the dollar eased 0.1 per cent to 109.21 yen, inching away from a 2-1/2 month peak of 109.49 yen struck on Thursday.
Oil prices edged lower on Friday but Brent largely held gains from the previous session amid concerns that Iran may face renewed sanctions, choking off supply.
Global benchmark Brent crude futures were down 0.3 per cent at $74.53 a barrel, after rising 1.0 per cent on Thursday.
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