TOKYO: Shares in Asia posted strong gains early Friday, tracking the upbeat session overnight on Wall Street. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.0 percent to 21,957.44 as the U.S. dollar strengthened against the yen, boosting exporters’ shares. Investors are watching for U.S. GDP data.
KEEPING SCORE: Gains for U.S. technology companies pushed South Korea’s Kospi up 0.5 percent to 2,493.50 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index surged 0.9 percent to 28,445.16. The Shanghai Composite index added 0.2 percent to 3,414.00 and Australia’s S&P ASX 200 edged up less than 0.1 percent to 5,918.90. Shares in Taiwan and Southeast Asia also climbed.
WALL STREET: A good day for technology companies and banks helped the market recover some losses from earlier in the week. However, drug-makers and distributors tumbled. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.1 percent to 2,560.40. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.3 percent to 23,400.86 while the Nasdaq composite lost 0.1 percent to 6,556.77. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 0.3 percent to 1,497.46.
EURO OPTIMISM: Regional stock indexes jumped after the European Central Bank said Thursday it will begin gradually reducing bond purchases it’s been making to strengthen the regional economy. Starting in January the bank plans to cut the size of its purchases in half, to 30 billion euros a month. Investors were relieved the bank isn’t being more aggressive. “The market was a little bit fearful that the ECB was going to be more hawkish,” said Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “That wasn’t the case.”
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 114.21 yen from 114.00 yen. The euro fell to $1.1634 from $1.1654 as investors think interest rates in Europe will stay lower for longer than they had expected. The weaker euro helped shares of companies that export goods from Europe.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 2 cents to $52.66 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 46 cents to $52.64 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 6 cents to $59.10 a barrel.