Asian markets rose on Friday following a third straight rally on Wall St overnight, as below-par US data eased expectations for a sharper pace of interest rate hikes.
The gains come at the end of a roller-coaster week for Asian investors, who are trying to gauge their outlook, with earnings so far relatively positive, but economic data mixed and geopolitical events tempering sentiment.
All three main indices in New York enjoyed strong days thanks to a bump in tech firms, while another bigger-than-expected rise in US unemployment claims indicated that higher US Federal Reserve rates and a spike in inflation could be kicking in.
The reading — along with a big miss on the closely watched Philadelphia Fed business survey — could allow the central bank to pull back from its campaign of monetary tightening sooner, giving some relief to the world’s top economy.
Analyst Tapas Strickland said that the data were considered volatile owing to seasonal adjustments, but that the higher unemployment claims were “consistent with growing anecdotes of hiring freezes and layoffs at several multinational companies” such as Alphabet Inc’s Google, Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp.
Tech firms had enjoyed a broadly positive reporting season, he said, but for those in the “non-tech and non-financial sectors guidance has been weak on the outlook and consistent with a slowing economy.”
Still, Asian markets ended the week on a positive note.
Taipei, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta and Bangkok all posted gains. Sydney was flat, while Shanghai, Wellington and Seoul edged down.
Oanda Corp’s Jeffrey Halley said the Fed’s meeting next week is a major event on the calendar.
“The statement will be crucial and, depending on how it plays out, could stop what I consider a bear market rally, in its tracks,” he said in a note.
The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index on Friday rose 0.5 percent to 159.67, rising 3.6 percent for the week.
The TAIEX on Friday inched up less than 0.1 percent to 14,949.36 points, rising 2.7 percent for the week.
South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.7 percent to 2,393.14 points, but was up 2.7 percent weekly.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 on Friday added 0.4 percent to 27,914.66 points, soaring 4.2 percent for the week. The broader TOPIX rose 0.3 percent for the day to close at 1,955.97 points, taking its weekly gain to 3.4 percent.
Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 fell less than 0.1 percent to 6,791.50 points, but ended the week 2.8 percent higher.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index on Friday rose 0.2 percent to 20,609.14 points, bringing its weekly gain to 1.5 percent.
The Shanghai Composite Index on Friday fell less than 0.1 percent to close at 3,269.97 points, but was up 1.3 percent for the week.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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With a tantalizing array of satay chicken, wok-fried mud crab and chilled tiger prawns, the dinner buffet at Singapore’s Grand Hyatt hotel typically sets diners back about US$70. Those on a tighter budget and with an eye on sustainability can fill a box for one-tenth of that price. Across Asia, tech start-ups are taking food otherwise destined for landfill and providing discounted meals through mobile phone apps. About one-third of food is lost or wasted every year globally, and the mountains of waste are estimated to cause 8 to 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions such as methane, the UN says.