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Market Update

Nikkei Soars in Broadly Higher Asia

Japanese stocks once again bounced into uncharted territory Friday as the yen dropped below the 100-level mark against the dollar, even as other regional stocks logged mild gains.

At the time of writing, the Nikkei was trading 3% higher at 14,621 -- its highest level in five years, as the dollar broke past the key 100-yen mark for the first time in more than four years, after data released on Thursday showed U.S. jobless claims declined to its lowest level since 2008.

Among other indexes the moves were subdued -- China's Shanghai Composite edged up 0.1%, Mumbai's Sensex, too, added 0.1% while Australia's S&P/ASX All Ordinaries added 0.3%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng, meanwhile, lagged behind, down 0.2%.

In economic reports, official statistics suggested Japan's current account surplus expanded almost twice in March from February as the trade deficit decreased on account of a depreciating yen.

Stocks on the move

Exporters in Tokyo led the field, riding on the yen's fresh weakness. A softer yen boosts the earnings outlook of the exporters, and traders beleived government policies were suggestive of further depreciation of the yen, which bodes well for the country's corporate sector.

Racing ahead, Sharp Corp. vaulted nearly 10%, Mazda Motor Corp. accelerated 7.5% while Advantest Corp. bounced over 5%.

Realty firms and metal players supported -- Mitsui Fudosan Co. soared 7.9% while Sumitomo Realty & Development Co. gained over 3.5%. Among metal firms, JFE Holdings added 4.8% while Kobe Steel was up 4%.

On the earnings front, Trend Micro jumped nearly 17% after posting upbeat first quarter results.

In Hong Kong, most property developers extended losses. China Overseas Land & Investment shed over a percent while New World Development Corp. dropped 2.7%.

Resources stocks only added to the losses. Jiangxi Copper erased 2.5% while Angang Steel was down 0.2%. Aluminum Corp. of China, however, bucked the trend with a nearly 4% gain.

Exporters, too, drifted lower but banking firms posted mild gains. ICBC edged up 0.2%, China Construction Bank rose 0.6% and Agricultural Bank of China up 0.5%, offsetting some of the losses on the benchmark index.

In Mumbai, stocks gathered some confidence after a cautious start. Top gainers included auto makers, banks, metal firms and IT players.

Maruti Suzuki advanced around 2%, Hindalco Industries tacked on a percent, SBI also moved up around a percent while Infosys improved 0.9%.

In Sydney, miners were trading slightly higher on the resource-heavy benchmark index, which helped offset losses in the financials segment.

Index leader and top miner BHP Billiton added around a percent while Rio Tinto picked up 1.4% after Carlyle Group LP reportedly made an initial bid for Rio Tinto's majority stake in Australian copper-gold mine.

But banks pulled back with NAB slipping over a percent while Westpac Banking and ANZ lost around 0.7% each.