ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Largely Continue Gains As Investors Regain Confidence

By Lucy Craymer Features Dow Jones Newswires

Stocks rise in Japan and Australia, but pull back in China

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Global stocks continued to move higher Friday, with most Asia-Pacific markets poised to end the week on a high note as investors maintained their risk for appetite.

"Asia has done well in the past couple of days," despite commentary from Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen and the latest worries regarding U.S. President Donald Trump, said Tai Hui, chief market strategist in Asia at J.P. Morgan Funds.

After further gains overnight in the U.S. and Europe as Yellen concluded her semiannual congressional testimony, most Asia-Pacific stock indexes started Friday in positive territory.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 led gains in the region, rising 0.5% after posting a 1.1% increase Thursday and closing higher in three straight trading days so far this week.

The Nikkei Stock Average extended gains, rising 0.1% Friday morning amid a pullback in the yen, which reversed some of its gains. The dollar rose to Yen113.50.

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Commodity currencies had a strong run in overnight trading, with both the Australian and New Zealand dollars adding to recent gains.

Tim Kelleher, head of foreign-exchange institutional sales at ASB Bank in New Zealand, said it looked as if the two currencies were playing catch-up with the Canadian dollar, which rallied Wednesday after that country's central bank raised interest rates for the first time in seven years.

Both currencies were little changed versus the U.S. dollar in Asian trading Friday, but New Zealand's NZX 50 Index rose 0.4%.

Elsewhere, Korea's Kospi added 0.2% after having notched record closing highs each of the prior two trading days.

But China stocks bucked the trend in Asia. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.3% and the Shenzhen Composite Index lost 0.6%, with investors slightly cautious ahead of possible changes to China's financial system following the National Financial Work Conference, which started Friday.

In commodities, oil prices took a breather in Asia after another 1% gain overnight, with U.S. and Brent futures off 0.2%. "There have been some clear signs demand has risen globally...suggesting the glut is evaporating slowly," said Stuart Ive, client adviser at OM Financial.

Meanwhile, Australian wheat prices are expected to take a further hit on Friday, after U.S. wheat futures plunged overnight as concerns about dry weather in parts of the U.S. eased. But weather concerns persist in Australia, said Tobin Gorey at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, so it is unlikely that the decline in Australia would be as significant as that in the U.S.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 14, 2017 00:02 ET (04:02 GMT)