Asian shares track tech, consumer stocks' rally on Wall St

By ELAINE KURTENBACHMarketsAssociated Press

Shares rose in Asia on Friday after technology and consumer-focused stocks led an overnight rally on Wall Street, marking a dramatic end to the market's most volatile quarter in more than two years. Most world markets were closed for Good Friday.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 index added 1.4 percent to 21,454.30 and the Kospi in South Korea climbed 0.4 percent to 2,445.85. The Shanghai Composite index edged 0.3 percent higher to 3,168.90. Shares rose in Taiwan and Thailand.

WALL STREET'S SURGE: Banks and industrial stocks also lifted the market and recent laggards such as Facebook and Boeing rose. Even so, the solid gains didn't prevent the stock market's first quarterly loss since the third quarter of 2015. The S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent to 2,640.87. The Dow gained 1.1 percent to 24,103.11 and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks also picked up 1.1 percent, to 1,529.43. The Nasdaq added 1.6 percent to 7,063.44, closing the quarter with a gain of 2.3 percent. U.S. stock markets will be closed for the Good Friday holiday.

TECH FACTOR: Thursday's run-up in technology stocks signaled that investors believe the sector was oversold in recent weeks, said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "Volatility has ramped up, inflationary pressures are more prevalent, interest rates are on the cusp of change, so that presents a higher level of uncertainty and higher investor angst," he said.

JAPAN DATA: Data released Friday showed industrial production rebounded in February, gaining 4.1 in February from the month before, after a 6.8 drop in January. "The rebound in industrial production in February wasn't strong enough to prevent a slump in output last quarter and we reiterate our forecast that GDP shrank in Q1," Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

ENERGY: Trading stopped for the long Easter weekend. On Thursday, benchmark U.S. crude rose 56 cents to $64.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, added 74 cents to $70.27 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 106.23 yen from 106.43 yen on Thursday. The euro strengthened to $1.2329 from $1.2301.

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AP Business Writer Alex Veiga contributed to this report.