Asian stocks rise tracking Wall St; Japan, Australia notch record highs

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Asian stocks rise tracking Wall St; Japan, Australia notch record highs
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com-- Most Asian stocks rose on Friday tracking strong overnight gains on Wall Street, with Japanese and Australian markets at record highs amid growing hopes over lower interest rates in 2024. 

Regional markets tracked an overnight rally in Wall Street as the S&P 500 and NASDAQ Composite notched record closing highs on buying into technology shares. Gains came after key PCE inflation data eased as expected in January, which fed into bets that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates by June.

U.S. stock futures were mildly positive in Asian trade. 

Japanese stocks surge, Nikkei 225 back at record high 

Japanese stocks were by far the best performers in Asia, with the Nikkei 225 rising 1.7% to a record high of 39,920 points. The broader TOPIX index rose 1.1% and also hit a lifetime high of 2,707.05 points.

Friday’s gains were driven chiefly by technology stocks, with Japanese chipmakers and chip-adjacent stocks tracking outsized gains in their U.S. peers on hype over improved prospects from artificial intelligence. Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TYO: 8035 ) rose 4.6%, while Advantest Corp. (TYO: 6857 ) added 2.6%. 

Japanese markets largely looked past data showing the manufacturing sector shrank more than expected in January, as economic activity in the country cooled.

Broader Asian markets were also positive, albeit at a slower pace. Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.5% and hit a record high of 7,737.80 points, after finishing just below lifetime peaks in the prior session. 

Gains in Australian shares were driven chiefly by growing bets that the Reserve Bank of Australia was done raising interest rates. Markets were also optimistic ahead of fourth quarter GDP data due next week.

Chinese shares extend rebound, mixed PMIs limit gains 

China’s Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 and Shanghai Composite indexes rose 0.5% and 0.2%, respectively, while gains in tech stocks helped Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index add 0.5%.

Local stocks extended a recent rebound, even as official purchasing managers index (PMI) data showed Chinese business activity remained muted through February. 

China’s manufacturing sector shrank for a fifth straight month, keeping overall business activity muted even as increased consumer spending during the Lunar New Year holiday helped non-manufacturing businesses. 

A separate private survey showed that China’s manufacturing sector grew slightly more than expected in February.

Among other Asian markets, futures for India’s Nifty 50 index pointed to a positive open, with the index set to test record highs after GDP data showed India’s economic outperformance persisted in the December quarter.

GDP grew a bigger-than-expected 8.4% in the December quarter, defying expectations for a slowdown and bringing annual growth to a peer-beating 7.6%. India was the fastest-growing major economy over the past two years.

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