Asian share markets were broadly higher early Friday, with Japan's Nikkei leading after the yen hit a fresh eight-month low against the dollar, helping boost the competitiveness of the country's exports.
The Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.8% to fresh 10-month high. Elsewhere in the region, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.5%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.2%, while the Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.8%.
The U.S. dollar-yen currency pair rose further on Friday, amid subdued trading volumes over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. Expectations of higher inflation in the U.S. under the Donald Trump administration are driving the greenback's broad strength, noted Seiichi Tanaka, head of foreign exchange spot trading at Mizuho Bank.
A weaker yen makes Japanese exports competitive and increases the value of overseas profits when they are repatriated. Among key export stocks, Nissan Motor surged 4.9% and Honda Motor gained 4%. Electronics giant Sony added 0.5%, while videogame maker Nintendo rose 0.9%.
Also, latest consumer price data in Japan showed deflation there was slowing. The core consumer price index there fell 0.4% from a year earlier in October, adjusted for fresh food and energy prices, according to data released Friday. The reading marked the eighth consecutive monthly decline, but was smaller than the 0.5% drop in the previous month.
Meanwhile, strength in global commodity prices is helping drive share gains in Australia. On Thursday, copper prices hit a 17-month high as bullish expectations for manufacturing spending outweighed the impact of the U.S. dollar hitting multi-year highs.
Among key resource shares in Australia, BHP Billiton rose 2.7%, while Rio Tinto added 1.8%, and Fortescue Metals Group added 0.3%.
"There is strong momentum in copper, coal and other commodities," said Castor Pang, head of research at Core Pacific-Yamaichi International, noting that thesurge in prices has been due to speculation. "It seems that investors believe there may be very strong demand from the U.S."
Expectations that a deal to cut global oil output will be finalized next week continued to help drive energy stock prices, with Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd. in Australia adding 1.6% and 0.7%, respectively. In Japan, shares of Inpex Corp. rose 0.4%.
Brent, the international crude oil benchmark, was down 0.1% in Asian trade but was hovering around $49 a barrel, ahead of the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries next week. Iraq has indicated that it would be taking part in any agreement to freeze production.
Still, gains in Asian markets were capped by reduced volumes and a lack of trading cues, with U.S. markets shut for Thanksgiving. "Whenever there are holidays in the U.S., trading is expected to be thin (in Asia)," said Alex Furber, a senior client services executive at CMC Markets.
In South Korea, the Kospi was mostly flat, last up 0.05%. The market's underperformance came as consumer confidence in the country fell to the lowest in more than seven years in November, a Bank of Korea survey showed Friday.
The market will also be watching for the release of key Asia data later Friday, including Malaysian consumer prices and Singapore industrial production data, both for October, while Taiwan will release third-quarter final economic output data.
--Kosaku Narioka, Takashi Nakamichi, Kwanwoo Jun and Katherine Dunn contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 24, 2016 22:45 ET (03:45 GMT)
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