Asian stock markets closed higher on Friday after sentiment got a solid boost from Wall Street's sharp rally overnight and as oil prices fell back further, dealers said.
They said this lead more than offset concerns about the global economic outlook, with the upturn in confidence reflected in heavy volumes and solid gains in several markets which have been struggling of late -- Seoul and Taipei among them.
Continued positive comment on US President George W. Bush's re-election also helped, with the emphasis put on the benefits of continuity in US policies rather than any disadvantages, as perhaps in the Middle East and Iraq.
Dealers reported significant fresh inflows of funds in Hong Kong and Taipei and said this boded well for next week.
Taiwanese share prices closed 1.2 percent higher on continued foreign investor interest ahead of the upcoming increase in the weighting of the nation's stock market in the MSCI indices, dealers said.
They said additional support came from Wall Street's sharp overnight gains and lower oil prices, bringing the market within sight of the key 6,000 points level.
The relative calm after the High Court's dismissal of the opposition's bid to strike down President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) re-election in March also helped sentiment.
The Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) indices are closely followed by international and institutional investors who seek to match or improve on their performance.
The TAIEX closed up 70.58 points at 5,931.31, after moving between 5,896.07 and 5,959.88, on turnover of NT$98.08 billion (US$2.95 billion). Risers led decliners 496 to 161, with 129 stocks unchanged.
Japanese share prices closed 1.06 percent higher, supported by sharp gains on Wall Street as a further fall in crude oil prices helped ease concerns over the prospects for global growth, dealers said.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index added 115.50 points to 11,061.77, rising above the 11,000 level for the first time in nearly three weeks. The broader TOPIX index of all First Section shares rose 10.24 points or 0.93 percent to 1,112.13.
South Korean share prices closed 1.09 percent higher, led by blue chips and technology stocks, with sentiment boosted by Wall Street's strong rally overnight on weaker crude oil prices, dealers said. The KOSPI index closed up 9.48 points at 860.68, off a high of 865.38.
Hong Kong share prices closed 0.94 percent higher as investors turned more positive following overnight gains on Wall Street and a decline in oil prices, dealers said.
The Hang Seng Index closed up 125.86 points at 13,494.95, off a high of 13,536.87 on turnover of HK$18.13 billion (US$2.3 billion). The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index was up 38 points or 0.83 percent at 4,642.24.
Chinese share prices closed little changed, steadying in modest trade as the financial sector got a boost after the government announced a series of measures to allow brokerages easier access to bank funding, dealers said.
The Shanghai A-share Index rose 0.42 points to 1,370.06 on turnover of 6.22 billion yuan (US$751 million) while the Shenzhen A-share Index was flat at 342.05.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which covers both A- and B-shares, was virtually flat at 1,305.13 on turnover of 6.26 billion yuan.
Australian share prices closed up 0.13 percent at a record high for the eighth consecutive session as News Corp Inc rose ahead of its listing in the United States next week, dealers said.