ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Advance Ahead Of Holiday Weekend

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Indian stocks finish at record

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region on Friday took cues from Wall Street, after all three of its indexes posted gains overnight on strength in bank and energy stocks and news the U.S. economy grew at its fastest pace in more than two years.

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Supporting U.S. stocks this week, and by extension global equities, was the passage by Congressional lawmakers of a $1.5 trillion tax-cutting bill.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.5% higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.7% and Australian stocks advanced 0.2%.

South Korea's Kospi --one of Asia's worst performers Thursday--gained 0.4% and Japan's Nikkei Average rose 0.2%.

Many investors expect gains in Asian stocks to carry on through the year-end holidays.

"It's hard to imagine equities not being held up going into December-end due to a bit of year-end portfolio fluffing," said Tim Kelleher, head of foreign exchange institutional sales at ASB Bank in New Zealand. "We're going to have a pretty good December on equities."

Capital Economics, however, doesn't think 2018 will be as good a year for risky assets as 2017 has been with earnings unlikely to surge and monetary policy poised to become a little less supportive.

Furthermore, "while political developments are even harder to predict, the boosts from the prospects of U.S. tax cuts and the fading of protectionism fears were probably one-offs," it added.

New Zealand's stock benchmark closed up 0.4% in a half-day of trading Friday, finishing just short of another record closing high. But the Shanghai Composite dipped 0.1%.

India's Sensex rose 0.6% for a record close at 33,940.30.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 22, 2017 06:48 ET (11:48 GMT)