Asian Shares Gain On Strong Regional Data

Asian stocks advanced on Friday, as strong economic data from China, Japan and Australia helped ease worries about global economic growth.

A pullback in yields and the dollar also helped underpin sentiment after a Fed official suggested a measured approach to raising interest rates.

Chinese shares rose on hopes for a steady economic recovery in China as a private survey showed activity in the country’s services sector expanded at the fastest pace in six months in February. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index settled 0.5 percent higher at 3,328.39.

Investors waited to see what economic targets are set by China’s parliament for 2023 at the annual meeting opening on Sunday.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.7 percent to finish at 20,567.54 after January retail sales figures showed 7 percent growth from a year earlier.

Japanese shares closed at a nearly three-month high after the release of encouraging economic reports.

Japan’s services sector activity grew at the fastest pace in eight months in February and core consumer inflation in Japan’s capital Tokyo slowed from a 42-year high in the month, while the jobless rate fell to 2.4 percent in January, separate data showed.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 1.6 percent to 27,927.47, marking its highest level since December 15 and the sharpest single-day gain since January 18. The broader Topix closed 1.3 percent higher at 2,019.52.

Fast Retailing jumped 3.9 percent after reporting robust monthly same-store sales at its Uniqlo brand. Drug maker Otsuka Holdings led losses to close 4.3 percent lower.

Seoul stocks edged up slightly, with the Kospi finishing 0.2 percent higher at 2,432.07, gaining for a third straight session. POSCO Chemical and Celltrion both surged around 5 percent.

Australian markets eked out modest gains after a survey showed the services sector in Australia bounced back into expansion in February.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent to 7,283.60, led by gains in the banking and mining sectors. The broader All Ordinaries Index gained 0.3 percent to close at 7,484 ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting scheduled for next week.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index slipped 0.3 percent to 11,868.79. Pushpay Holdings plunged 3.9 percent after shareholders rejected a $953 million buyout offer.

U.S. stocks rose overnight as Treasury yields retreated from earlier highs on comments from Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic suggesting that he favored a “slow and steady” path of interest rate hikes.

In economic news, weekly jobless claims declined further, indicating continued strength in the labor market, while labor costs grew faster than initially thought in the fourth quarter, separate reports showed.

The Dow rallied 1.1 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 advanced 0.8 percent.

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