Asia report: Markets finish higher as sentiment remains buoyant

11 January 2019

(Sharecast News) - Markets in Asia finished mostly higher on Friday, after a solid finish on Wall Street overnight boosted investor sentiment across the Pacific in the last session of the week.
In Japan, the <strong>Nikkei 225</strong> was up 0.97% at 20,359.70, as the yen strengthened 0.13% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 108.29.

The broader <strong>Topix</strong> index increased 0.51% to 1,529.73 in Tokyo.

<strong>Uniqlo</strong> owner <strong>Fast Retailing</strong> rocketed ahead 6.19%, even after it reported a decline in its year-on-year operating profit for the quarter to 30 November of 8%.

In fresh data out of Japan, household spending fell 0.6% in November - far more than a Reuters-polled forecast for a slide of 0.1%.

The woes of former <strong>Nissan</strong> chairman Carlos Ghosn continued as well, as he was indicted on two fresh financial misconduct charges during the day.

At a court appearance earlier this week, Ghosn denied other charges surrounding his exit from the carmaking giant late last year.

On the mainland, the <strong>Shanghai Composite</strong> was ahead 0.74% at 2,553.83, and the smaller, technology-heavy <strong>Shenzhen Composite</strong> improved 0.76% to 1,313.36.

After a lengthened round of trade talks between Washington and Beijing earlier in the week, details on the outcome of those remained hard to come by, but sentiment in China was still on the positive side.

Analysts saw the fact that the talks entered an unscheduled third day on Wednesday, and the idea that both countries were desperate to come out on top, as signs that the discussions would have been productive.

South Korea's <strong>Kospi</strong> was 0.6% firmer at 2,075.57, while the <strong>Hang Seng Index</strong> in Hong Kong rose 0.55% to 26,667,27.

Oil prices were higher as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last up 0.32% at $61.88 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate rising 0.57% to $52.89.

In Australia, the <strong>S&amp;P/ASX 200</strong> went against the regional trend, slipping 0.36% to close at 5,774.60.

Official data released in the morning showed a 0.4% month-on-month improvement in seasonally-adjusted sales in Australia for November, which was ahead of a Reuters-polled forecast for a 0.3% gain.

Retail shares were mixed on the news, however, with electronics chain <strong>JB Hi-Fi</strong> rising 2.57% while conglomerates <strong>Wesfarmers</strong> and <strong>Woolworths</strong> were both on the back foot.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's <strong>S&amp;P/NZX 50</strong> was up 0.5% at 8,959.58, led higher subscription broadcaster <strong>Sky</strong> - not related to its London-listed namesake - which surged 4.8%.

Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.54% at AUD 1.3842, and the Kiwi advancing 0.78% to NZD 1.4633.