Asia report: Most markets higher as Apple suppliers surge
Most markets in Asia finished in the green on Friday, as tensions between the US and Iran eased, with Apple suppliers among the leading risers after data showing solid iPhone sales in China was released.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.47% at 23,850.57, as the yen weakened 0.11% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 109.64.
Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was up 2.35% and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 1.69% firmer, while fashion firm Fast Retailing slid 2.78%.
Fast Retailing had slashed its full-year outlook on Thursday following worse-than-expected quarterly numbers, which it blamed on protests in Hong Kong and the impact of a boycott on its Uniqlo brand in South Korea.
Looking at Apple suppliers in Japan, Alps Alpine rose 1.11%, Murata added 1.07% and Sharp was ahead 0.93%.
Gains for suppliers to the California-based consumer technology giant came after government data in China showed a more-than-18% improvement in iPhone sales in that country in December.
The broader Topix index was 0.35% firmer by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing its session at 1,735.16.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.08% to 3,092.29, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite lost 0.15% to 1,797.88.
South Korea’s Kospi was 0.91% higher at 2,206.39, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong added 0.27% to 28,638.20.
The blue-chip technology stocks were mixed in Seoul, with chipmaker SK Hynix down 0.1% after a choppy session, while Apple supplier Samsung Electronics rose 1.54%.
LG Display, which also supplies Apple, was 0.95% higher.
On the Hong Kong bourse, Apple suppliers Hon Hai Precision Industry, Largan Precision and Sunny Optical were all in the green, rising 1.9%, 4.11% and 1.21%, respectively.
Oil prices were higher as the region ended its trading week, with Brent crude last up 0.26% at $65.54 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate ahead 0.24% at $59.70.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.8% at 6,929.00, although gold plays were weaker in the sunburnt country as the price of the precious metal fell back, following the easing of tensions in Iran.
Evolution Mining was 6.04% lower, while Kingsgate Consolidated lost 2.22% and Newcrest Mining was 1.44% weaker.
In fresh data out of Canberra, Australia's retail sales were stronger than expected in November, rising 0.9%, beating the 0.4% anticipated by economists polled by Reuters.
Wildfires continued to burn across eastern parts of the country, however, with insurance firm Suncorp saying its fire-related claims had reached AUD 345m since September.
Its shares were up 0.61% by the end of trading in Sydney.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was up 0.12% at 11,551.70, led higher by energy generator and retailer Meridian, which was up 2.7%.
The self-listed exchange operator NZX was up 2.2% to reach a more-than-six year record high, after it released its December data on Thursday which showed stronger activity on its market in 2019 than it recorded in 2018.
Both of the down under dollars were stronger on the greenback, with the Aussie last ahead 0.29% at AUD 1.4538, and the Kiwi advancing 0.03% to NZD 1.5112.