ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Jump Higher As Investors Brush Off Possible U.S. Shutdown

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Nintendo soars, boosting Nikkei; Taiex hits fresj 28-year high

Asia-Pacific stocks turned broadly higher by midday after a slow start to Friday's trading, as investors largely ignored ongoing U.S. budget negotiations.

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"Equities are the name of the game in Asia at the moment and it's going to continue," said Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia at Oanda, in the wake of strong January gains in the region. "I've gone through several of these possible shutdowns and this is the most nonchalant attitude I have seen the market take."

The House late Thursday passed a one-month spending bill intended to prevent a government shutdown this weekend. Democrats say they have the votes to block it in the Senate.

But oil was moving in Asia. Futures were recently down more than 1% to extend a pullback in the U.S. Thursday that reversed earlier gains on upbeat U.S. crude-inventory data. But the data also showed domestic production rebounding last week, and a separate release revealed average daily output rose last month among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Beyond the production data, the price drop has come following a strong month for oil futures, rising nearly every day in the period to a series of three-year highs, notes Daniel Hynes at ANZ Bank.

Little action in Asian equities early Friday followed scant moves overnight in the U.S. and Europe, but buying returned as the session progressed.

The biggest gains were in China, where local investors got their first chance to react to late Thursday's release of better-than-expected fourth-quarter economic growth. The Shanghai Composite hit fresh two-year highs in rising 0.5%.

But some continue to doubt the veracity of the data, with Capital Economics contending there are signs growth is already slowing.

Base metals rebounded overnight following the GDP release. But ANZ noted that premium hard-coking coal fell sharply as Chinese traders turned back to the domestic market.

Elsewhere, Taiwan's Taiex stock benchmark climbed 0.5% to another 28-year best as it continues marching toward 1990's record high, now 11% away. Helping the benchmark was Taiwan Semiconductor (2330.TW) -- the index's biggest company -- as it jumped 2.4% to another record following its fourth-quarter report.

The Nikkei finished morning trading up 0.3%. Nintendo (7974.TO) climbed 4.3% -- it's up 17% this month and at nine-year highs. However, Korea's Kospi was flat as Samsung Electronics (005930.SE) pulled back 1.6%.

The U.S. dollar has stabilized after its recent declines and was essentially flat in Friday Asian trading. Tim Kelleher, head of institutional FX sales at ASB Bank in New Zealand, said the greenback will likely remain under pressure until the budget situation is resolved. "Most people expect it will get sorted before the deadline," he said.

The Senate began considering the bill Thursday night. The first vote, to open debate on the measure, was supported by Democrats to buy more time to reach a better deal on immigration, a congressional aide said.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 23:05 ET (04:05 GMT)