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Asia markets higher as volatility fears ease

WT24 Desk

TOKYO – Asian stock markets edged higher on Friday in thin holiday trade, led by gains in Tokyo, as volatility eased after last week’s rollercoaster ride in the markets, AFP reports.

Tokyo followed Wall Street higher as investors gradually regained confidence heading into the weekend and set aside inflation fears that had sparked the market meltdown last week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index edged up 1.09 percent, or 234.73 points, to 21,699.71 at the break, while the broader Topix index was up 1.13 percent, or 19.45 points, at 1,738.72.

However, trading was generally subdued in the region as many major markets, including in China, Hong Kong and South Korea, were closed for the Chinese New Year break.

“Risk-averse attitude will be receding gradually with a sense of bottoming out in US shares,” Okasan Online Securities said.

Among major individual Japanese stocks, Sony rose 2.43 percent to 5,299 yen and Toyota gained 1.66 percent to 7,261 yen by the break.

Tokyo Electron, a major manufacturer of chip-making equipment, was up 1.47 percent at 20,355 yen, after a brokerage upgraded its estimate of the firm’s value.

Stocks were buoyed by a more positive sentiment on Wall Street, which continued its rebound from a six-day losing stretch that sent major indices down more than 10 percent — considered correction territory.

On Thursday, US indices closed higher for the fifth straight session, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both gaining 1.2 percent.

There were also gains in Europe, although more muted. In the markets that were open in Asia, the Australian ASX eked out marginal gains, up 0.08 percent.

The New Zealand market fared slightly better, up nearly 0.47 percent halfway through the trading session. Oil markets also firmed, driven by greater risk appetite and a weaker dollar, which has been a “significant component driving market sentiment”, according to Stephen Innes, an analyst at OANDA.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 21,699.71 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: Closed for a public holiday
Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a public holiday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2513 from $1.2464
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4112 from $1.4012
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.10 yen from 106.14 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 15 cents at $61.49 per barrel
Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 26 cents at $64.59 per barrel

New York – DOW: UP 1.2 percent at 25,200.37 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,234.81 points (close)

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