Asian stocks gained for a third week after former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Citigroup Inc suggested that losses in credit markets will abate.
Mizuho Financial Group Inc and National Australia Bank Ltd led a rally by financial shares after Greenspan said lenders are displaying a willingness to take on greater risk and Citigroup forecast earnings will improve this quarter.
Nikko Cordial Corp, Japan's third-biggest brokerage, surged after Citigroup Inc said it will buy the remaining shares it doesn't own in the company. Cathay Financial Holding Co gained after agreeing to take over China United Trust & Investment Corp.
"The concerns people had before about the credit squeeze hitting the financial sector now look exaggerated," said Kim Han Jin, vice president of Fides Investment Management in Seoul, which manages the equivalent of US$990 million in equities. "Stocks are rising on liquidity and the fading concerns."
The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index added 1.7 percent to 166.06 after reaching a record on Wednesday, extending a two-week, 7.1 percent rally. Financial shares were the biggest gainers among the measure's 10 industry groups, jumping 4.2 percent.
Taiwanese share prices closed little changed in cautious trading on Friday, as investors took their cue from Wall Street's lackluster overnight performance ahead of the release of US jobs data, dealers said.
Investor attention had been distracted by National Day celebrations due next week, they said.
The weighted index closed down 10.13 points or 0.11 percent at 9,617.26, after moving between 9,565.00 and 9,670.13 points, on turnover of NT$158.04 billion (US$4.85 billion).
A total of 24 stocks closed limit-up and five limit-down.
The market had a listless day due to uncertainty over the future direction of US borrowing costs and local corporate earnings growth, said an analyst with a leading local house.
Investors were also wondering about what would happen to Chinese stock prices when markets in China reopen next week.
"Recent financial market turmoil has created a buying opportunity for companies looking to expand through mergers," said Vickie Hsieh, who helps oversee US$1.4 billion at President Investment Trust Corp in Taipei. "Investors should take these deals as a cue and look for investment opportunities."
Japanese share prices closed narrowly mixed ahead of the release of key US economic data and a long weekend in Japan, dealers said.
The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark NIKKEI-225 index of leading shares dropped 27.45 points or 0.16 percent to 17,065.04.
The broader TOPIX index of all first-section shares edged up 1.31 points or 0.08 percent to 1,656.91.
Hong Kong share prices jumped 3.2 percent led by Chinese commodity stocks and market heavyweights such as China Life and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, dealers said.
They said investors were waiting for key US employment data likely to provide clues on the outlook for interest rates.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index closed up 857.54 points at 27,831.52 after picking up pace in the afternoon.
South Korean share prices closed down 0.38 percent, slipping below the symbolic 2,000-point level, amid caution ahead of US jobs data and domestic corporate earnings, dealers said.
The benchmark KOSPI index closed down 7.59 points at 1,996.03, after trading between 2,009.68 and 1,990.82 during the day.
Australian share prices closed up 0.6 percent as investors picked up commodities and consumer staple stocks ahead of the release of US jobs data, dealers said.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 38.5 points to 6,605.4, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 37.4 points at 6,617.3.
Singapore share prices closed 1.0 percent higher on buying in blue chips led by bourse operator Singapore Exchange, dealers said.
The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 38.81 points to 3,822.62.
Malaysian share prices closed 0.2 percent higher with the market's firmness in heavy trading suggesting positive investor sentiment, dealers said.
The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index rose 2.55 points to 1,372.39.
Philippine share prices closed flat as investors locked in profits ahead of key US economic data, dealers said.
The composite index edged up 0.45 points at 3,775.91 after it see-sawed between 3,759.04 and 3,814.62.
Indian share prices ended flat on Friday in sharply volatile trade as the benchmark SENSEX fell off an intraday record high with investors locking in gains, dealers said.
The Mumbai stock exchange's SENSEX index fell 3.78 points or 0.02 percent to 17,773.36, off the day's high of 17,979.18, a new intraday record.
The previous intraday high was 17,953.07 on Wednesday.
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