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Tokyo stocks lead Asia higher in thin holiday trade

Tokyo stocks lead Asia higher in thin holiday trade
March 30, 2018

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese stocks led the way in Asia on Friday, climbing higher following a rally on Wall Street but the majority of Asian markets were closed for Easter holidays.

The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo rose by 211.28 points at the open, or 1.0 percent, driven higher by a continued relief rally as tensions on the Korean peninsula ease.

The broader Topix index in Japan was up 0.72 percent or 12.27 points.

However, shares in China were flat, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index inching up 0.04 percent or 1.26 points at the open.

Financial markets in Australia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, New Zealand and Hong Kong were closed on Friday for public holidays.

"Further easing of tension over North Korea has... contributed to improving investor sentiment," said Toshihiko Matsuno at the investor information division of SMBC Nikko Securities.

Japanese stocks were also following the lead from Wall Street where a rally in technology stocks drove the Dow Jones index to close up 1.1 percent ahead of the Easter holiday.

The mood on financial markets soured significantly this week with technology giant Facebook under pressure over privacy concerns and reignited fears of a global trade war.

Despite Thursday's gains, the Dow and S&P 500 finished with losses for the quarter. The S&P 500 declined 1.2 percent, its first loss since the third quarter of 2015.

But traders in the US and Europe went into the long Easter weekend in a buoyant mood although analysts attributed some of the bounce to profit-taking on tech stocks after a bloody week.

"The onset of the Easter holiday encouraged investors to take a well-deserved breather," said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.

The risk-on attitude also boosted oil prices with Brent and WTI prices rising 39 and 31 cents respectively in mid-day trade.

Key figures

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 21,153.97 (break)

Hong Kong - CLOSED

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.04 percent at 3,161.79

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.18 yen from 106.80 yen at 2100 GMT

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2311 from $1.2317

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.4026 from $1.4070

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP 31 cents at $64.91 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 39 cents at $69.34 (new contract)

New York - Dow: UP 1.1 percent at 24,103.11 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,056.61 (close)