Asia report: Markets rally after Wall Street surge

21 April 2017

(ShareCast News) - Markets in Asia finished higher on Friday, taking their cues from a strong finish on Wall Street overnight and ahead of the first round of the French presidential elections at the weekend, amid a suspected terrorist shooting in Paris.
Japan's <strong>Nikkei 225</strong> added 1.04% to 18,620.75, with the yen last 0.19% stronger against the greenback at JPY 109.11 per $1.

Ailing technology firm <strong>Toshiba</strong> was down 5.73%, after reports emerged that <strong>Western</strong> <strong>Digital</strong> was considering a joint bid with partners backed by the Japanese government for Toshiba's valuable semiconductor division.

On the mainland, the <strong>Shanghai Composite</strong> added 0.03% to 3,173.15, while the <strong>Shenzhen Composite</strong> was off 0.44% at 1,920.23.

South Korea's <strong>Kospi</strong> finished 0.74% higher at 2,165.04, while the <strong>Hang Seng Index</strong> in Hong Kong lost 0.06% to 24,042.02.

In Seoul, shares in <strong>Samsung Electronics</strong> were ahead 1.19% ahead of the release of its next flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone.

The company had confirmed earlier last week that pre-orders for the Galaxy S8 were ahead of those for its previous S7 flagship.

In France, one police officer was killed and two were injured by a gunman in central Paris on Thursday night.

It came just days before French electors head to the polls in a tight presidential election, with centrist Emmanuel Macron and controversial far-right candidate Marine Le Pen widely expected to reach a second round vote.

Analysts remained of the belief that, whatever the result, France was still unlikely to leave the European Union.

"Even if Le Pen makes President, establishing supporters among lawmakers to even get a 'Frexit' referendum off the ground is a long way off," notes Mizuho Bank senior economist Vishnu Varathan.

"Simply put, 'Frexit' is not an imminent risk in any case."

Oil prices were marginally higher, with Brent crude last up 0.11% at $53.05 per barrel and West Texas Intermediate adding 0.02% to $50.72.

Australia's <strong>S&amp;P/ASX 200</strong> was up 0.56% at 5,845.14, with the materials and utilities subindexes underpinning the benchmark, rising 1.78% and 2.02%, respectively.

South Pacific contract bottler <strong>Coca-Cola Amatil</strong> was off 10.52% after it downgraded its earnings forecasts, citing weaker demand for beverages in Australia.

In New Zealand, the <strong>S&amp;P/NZX 50</strong> was up 0.1% to 7,197.21, led by <strong>Australia and New Zealand Banking Group</strong> which added 2.4% in Wellington trade.

The down under dollars were mixed against the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.02% at AUD 1.3284 and the Kiwi weakening 0.09% to NZD 1.4276 per $1.