ASIA MARKETS: Australia Stocks Near 10-year High As Asia-Pacific Markets Largely Gain

By Lucy Craymer Features Dow Jones Newswires

Metal prices help S&P/ASX to best day of 2017; Kospi rises despite Samsung's losses

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Asia-Pacific equities were modestly higher Friday, following regional declines a day earlier.

Australian stocks outperformed, with commodity-related equities leading the way. The S&P/ASX 200 was recently up 0.5% at 5,962 -- hitting a 2017 high for the second day in a row -- and moving closer to 2015's peak of 5,996.90. Topping that would put the index at its best level in 10 years.

BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) rose 1.2%, putting the week's gain at 4%, while Rio Tinto (RIO) added 0.5% to hit a six-year high. Higher metals prices were helping Korean steel producers, with Posco (PKX) climbing 0.8%. That helped Korea's Kospi rise 0.1% even with Samsung (005930.SE) pulling back 1.8% after its latest record highs.

Metal prices rebounded this week, with steel and iron ore among the leaders. Nickel has been a standout by jumping 23% over the past month due to expectations that supply will tighten on demand from electric-vehicle producers.

While Taiwan's benchmark opened up 0.4%, indexes in New Zealand and Singapore were down slightly. Japanese markets were closed Friday for a holiday.

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Overnight, U.S. stocks moved little and the dollar reversed declines made during Asian trading Thursday. President Donald Trump's naming of Jerome Powell to lead the Federal Reserve didn't lead to a market reaction.

Oil prices continued to rise in Asian trading Friday, with the U.S. benchmark joining global standard Brent in reaching levels last seen in mid-2015. Futures were up as much as 0.5%.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia said it has seen indications that the production-cap deal led by members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will be extended through 2018.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 02, 2017 22:49 ET (02:49 GMT)