ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Soar To New Highs, But Show Some Signs Of Cooling

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Oil's gain, before Friday pause, lifts Australian index

The global stock rally continued in Asia early Friday, with numerous markets hitting fresh multiyear highs -- though gains show signs of cooling.

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Japan's Nikkei Stock Average notched another 26-year best after Thursday's pop, finishing up 0.9% at 23,714.53.

In New Zealand , equities traded mixed following consecutive record-high closes to start 2018, as some large caps eased in holiday-thinned trading. The main average did end up 0.1% at 8,455.55. Taiwan's stock benchmark , which jumped 1.9% the past three sessions, was slightly weaker most of the morning only to scratch back to a 0.3% higher finish, at 10,879.80.

It was a similar story in China and Hong Kong after a sold start to the week. China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.2% at 3,391.75, while the island's benchmark Hang Seng Index added 0.2% to 30,814.64 to set another 10-year high.

Thursday's laggards -- Australia and South Korea -- outperformed, with their main stock indexes up 0.7% and 1.2%, respectively. Oil price gains -- they hit fresh three-year highs Thursday before pausing that move Friday -- helped the S&P/ASX 200 , while bank stocks also got off the mat after a weak start to 2018.

The S&P/ASX 200's move to fresh 10-year highs came despite news of a surprise November trade deficit, which pushed the Australian dollar down about 0.2%. Capital Economics expects trade to have weighed on the country's fourth-quarter economic growth.

Stocks broadly "are continuing to track up very nicely and they all appear to be in a relatively strong uptrend," said Grant Williamson, a broker at Hamilton Hindin Greene. Global economic growth underpins support for equities, though "fundamentals were starting to look a bit stretched" in some markets, he added.

The latest upbeat reading for the U.S. economy came Thursday from an employment release from payroll company ADP showing strong December job growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average subsequently completed its fastest-ever move to a 1,000-point milestone.

The government's official unemployment data comes Friday, and OCBC cautioned there could be some profit-taking on Asian markets before the weekend.

S&P 500 futures were recently up 0.05% after the index logged its third-straight record finish to start 2018. It was the longest such streak since the benchmark set best-ever closes the first six sessions of 1964.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 05, 2018 08:14 ET (13:14 GMT)