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Asian markets rally after Wall Street highs

Asian markets rose Friday, supported by Wall Street and eurozone records, as traders shrugged off weak US retail sales and recession in Britain and Japan.

US and European stocks rallied Thursday, with the broad-based S&P 500 up 0.6% to finish at an all-time high, along with Paris and Frankfurt.

London equities increased despite official data showing the UK entered recession at the end of last year, as high inflation prolonged a cost-of-living crisis.

Japan also entered recession in the back end of 2023, according to data released Thursday, with the Asian nation overtaken by Germany as the world’s third-biggest economy.

But overall Asian shares were headed for “their fourth consecutive weekly gain, potentially marking the longest winning streak in over a year unless they experience an unlikely decline” of more than 1% on Friday, said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.

Despite the recession woes and US retail sales dipping more than expected in January, Innes said “the regional and global interest rate environment remains supportive for risk markets”.

The US Commerce Department reported a larger-than-expected decline in retail sales on Thursday, a 0.8% retreat after the winter holidays suggesting dampened consumer sentiment.

But Innes said “the broader dataset suggests a contrary narrative: if anything, the growth momentum in the US appears to have gained traction early in the year, building upon the strong performance witnessed in 2023”.

Figures released on Tuesday showing the US consumer price index slowed less than expected in January dealt a blow to hopes of an early interest rate cut by the Fed and had sent Asian indices mostly lower.

But investors returned to buying on expectations borrowing costs will be reduced later this year.

Friday’s producer price index “will be closely watched by markets and should drive the near-term direction for the equity and bond markets”, said Larry Tentarelli, chief technical strategist at Blue Chip Daily Trend Report.

Tokyo’s key Nikkei index ended at a new 34-year high, partly supported by the Wall Street rallies, including tech shares.

Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Manila, Bangkok and Wellington were all up.

Jakarta stocks also gained Friday, as Indonesia’s election commission results showed Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto was on course to win the presidential election by a wide margin with more than half of the votes counted.

Key figures around 0630 GMT

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 38,487.24 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 2.5 percent at 16,341.13

Shanghai – Composite: Closed for holiday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0760 from $1.0774 on Thursday

Dollar/yen: UP at 150.27 yen from 150.24 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2582 from $1.2577

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.52 pence from 85.53 pence

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $82.81 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $78.12 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.9 percent at 38,773.12 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,597.53 (close)

Bloomberg News contributed to this story

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