(RTTNews.com) – Asian stock markets closed mostly higher on Friday after strong trade data from China added to evidence of strength in the world’s second-largest economy. Data showed that China’s imports growth in September exceeded expectations, while exports expanded at a slower than expected pace, but remained robust.
The Australian market closed at its highest level since June 2017, reflecting gains by healthcare stocks after the federal government announced plans for proposed healthcare reforms.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 19.70 points or 0.34 percent to settle at 5,814.20. The broader All Ordinaries Index added 20.60 points or 0.35 percent to close at 5,884.70.
Mining stocks advanced on news of strong iron ore imports by China in September. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 0.6 percent each, while Fortescue Metals added 0.4 percent.
In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank added 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent.
Commonwealth Bank said it will alter the way it pays bonuses to its branch tellers by rewarding them for better customer services rather than for attaining financial targets.
Oil stocks recovered from early losses despite lower crude oil prices. Woodside Petroleum added 0.3 percent, Santos rose 0.5 percent and Oil Search added 0.2 percent.
The Japanese market surged to a fresh 21-year high, boosted by optimism that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party will win the general elections later this month.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index gained 200.46 points or 0.96 percent to finish at 21,155.18, its highest level since September 1996. The broader Topix Index added 0.5 percent to settle at 1,708.62.
Shares of Fast Retailing gained 5.5 percent after the index heavyweight reported a record profit for the fiscal year ended in August.
Kobe Steel’s shares fell 8.7 percent after the company’s data scandal revealed that 30 companies outside Japan, including General Motors, Tesla, Boeing and Airbus, received aluminium and other products with falsified specifications.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Japan’sAsahi Brewery could sell its almost 20 percent stake in Tsingtao Brewery as part of efforts to grow its business in Europe. Shares of Asahi Group gained 1.8 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota declined 0.4 percent and Honda fell 0.6 percent.
The South Korean market edged lower, pulling back from all-time recording highs recorded earlier this week as investors booked profits. The benchmark KOSPI Index slipped 1.14 points or 0.05 percent to close at 2,473.62.
Shares of Samsung Electronics declined 1.46 percent after the company said it expects a record third-quarter operating profit and that its CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon plans to step down.
New Zealand shares rose for the ninth straight day to set another record high. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index added 21.20 points or 0.26 percent to finish at 8,089.32.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan are also closed higher, while Malaysia is edging lower.
U.S. stocks closed modestly lower on Thursday partly due to profit taking following the upward trend seen over the past several sessions. A negative reaction to earnings news from Citigroup and JPMorgan also weighed on the markets, with both financial giants moving lower despite reporting better than expected third quarter earnings.
The Dow edged down 31.88 points or 0.1 percent to 22,842.01, the Nasdaq dipped 12.04 points or 0.2 percent to 6,591.51 and the S&P 500 dipped slipped 4.31 points or 0.2 percent to 2,550.93.
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