ASIA MARKETS: Asia Stocks Get Inspiration From U.S. Earnings Reports And European Stimulus News

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Asia-Pacific equities rose broadly on Friday, buoyed by strength in U.S. corporate earnings and the prospect of continuing stimulus in Europe.

Ahead of the start of Asian trading, three of the world's biggest companies -- Google parent Alphabet Inc., Inc. and Microsoft Corp. -- reported booming quarterly growth, sending shares of the three tech giants surging in after-hours trade.

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The share gains, which added a combined $80 billion in market value in the first hour or so after results were announced, have "all given a positive sentiment to the day," said Tim Kelleher, head of institutional sales at ASB Bank in New Zealand.

In Asia, Japanese equities led the region's strength Friday, helped by a 0.4% decline in the against the U.S. dollar, as global risk-taking appetite improved. The weaker yen boosted export-related stocks, sending the Nikkei Stock Averageup 1% to a new 20-year high.

Stock indexes are displayed on an electronic stock board outside a securities firm in Tokyo.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Indexwas up nearly 0.9%, after the market's recent underperformance, while Korea's Kospirose 0.5%, Singapore's Straits Times Indexrose 0.3% and Malaysia's benchmark index added 0.6%.

The rally in the three U.S. tech giants lifted technology stocks across the region. Shares of Sony Corp.(6758.TO)gained 1% and Nintendo was up 0.7%, while Samsung Electronics(005930.SE)added 0.8%. Taiwanese chip maker TSMC(2330.TW)was up 1.3%, while Largan Precision gained 1.9%.

The region's gains also come after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said late Thursday that the bank's bond-buying program could be extended beyond September 2018, even though it would pare back its monthly bond purchases.

Still, despite the Asian market's slight pullback earlier this week, analysts say that there is risk for more consolidation in the near term.

"These markets are so tired...They are pricing in and discounting so much good news," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets in Australia. "A pullback is something I see as a more elevated risk."

In commodities, iron-ore prices continued to decline, as traders continued to fret about the impact of steel mill closures over the winter months.

ANZ said in a note that these concerns were also weighing on steel futures in China, while sentiment was helped by news that Rio Tinto could potentially increase output at its Australian operations to over 400 million metric tons.

Meanwhile, oil prices have continued an upward trajectory after closing at a six-month high overnight in the U.S., boosted by declining stockpiles of fuel and hopes that the global oil cartel will extend a deal to limit global production.

Brent, the global crude benchmark, was last up 0.1% at US$59.38 a barrel, while Nymex crude futures were also up 0.1% at US$52.67 a barrel.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 26, 2017 23:24 ET (03:24 GMT)