Asia markets gain as Topix hits four-month high

FAN Editor

Asia markets traded in largely positive territory in the afternoon on the final trading day of the week, following record highs on Wall Street.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 continued to advance by 0.97 percent in the afternoon, with the insurance sector rising by 2.2 percent. The Topix index also saw gains of 0.9 percent to reach a four-month high.

The moves in Japan followed a data release which showed that its nationwide core consumer price index for August rose 0.9 percent compared to a year ago. It was in line with expectations from a Reuters poll but still off the Bank of Japan’s inflation target of 2 percent.

“It will be difficult for the Japan inflation (rate) to reach 2 percent before the consumption tax rate is raised,” Takuji Okubo, chief economist at Japan Macro Advisors, told CNBC, in reference to the Japanese government’s plan to raise the consumption tax rate from 8 to 10 percent in 2019.

South Korea’s Kospi also continued to trade higher by 0.38 percent, as memory chipmaker SK Hynix’s stock remained weaker, by 3.16 percent.

Down Under, the ASX 200 lost some earlier gains but edged up 0.28 percent, as the financial sector remained higher by 0.2 percent with most major bank stocks rising. Commonwealth Bank of Australia was up by 0.17 percent while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose by 0.42 percent.

In the Greater China region, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index extended gains to 0.93 percent. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite bounced back higher by 0.98 percent while the Shenzhen composite also gained by 0.675 percent.

Overnight in market action stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared to a record high — its first since January — as it gained 251.22 points to close at 26,656.98. The S&P 500 also saw a new high, rising around 0.8 percent to close at 2,930.75. The Nasdaq Composite advanced by about 1 percent to 8,028.232

China’s commerce ministry said Thursday it hopes the U.S. would take steps to change its behavior. The ministry’s comments came after the two largest economies in the world slapped fresh tariffs on each other’s goods earlier in the week.

In currency news, the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was at 93.887 as of 12:13 p.m. HK/SIN, still hovering close to its earlier low.

The Japanese yen slid further against the dollar at 112.72 yen, while the Australian dollar was largely flat at $0.7289, as of 12:14 p.m. HK/SIN.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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