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05 Feb 2021 | 11:21

Asia report: Most markets higher, Japan auto plays rise on Apple rumours

(Sharecast News) - Most markets in Asia closed in positive territory on Friday, with Japanese carmakers having their time in the spotlight amid ongoing rumours of an electric vehicle tie-up with Apple. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was up 1.54% at 28,779.19, as the yen weakened 0.09% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.64.

Of the major components on the benchmark index, automation specialist Fanuc was up 1.81%, fashion firm Fast Retailing rose 1.31%, and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 3.48% higher.

Carmakers were firmer across the board on the day, with Honda up 2.30%, Mazda Motor soaring 18.52%, Mitsubishi Motors adding 8.13%, Nissan jumping 7.51%, Suzuki Motor gaining 1.73%, and Toyota 2.1% firmer.

Financial daily the Nikkei reported earlier that California-based consumer technology giant Apple was in talks with at least six vehicle manufacturers about building an electric 'Apple Car'.

On Thursday, Korean carmaker Kia Motors and its majority shareholder Hyundai Motor were the subject of strong gains, after CNBC reported that Apple was close to finalising a deal with the two companies.

On Friday, CNBC quoted a source as saying that Apple had not yet completed a deal with Hyundai-Kia, and could ultimately select another vehicle manufacturer in addition to, or instead of, the two Korean manufacturers.,

The broader Topix index was 1.38% firmer by the end of trading in Tokyo, settling at 1,890.95.

On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite was down 0.16% at 3,496.33, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 0.88% weaker at 2,332.53.

South Korea's Kospi was 1.07% higher at 3,120.63, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong was ahead 0.6% at 29,288.68.

Chinese firm Kuaishou Technology rocketed 160% by the close in the special administrative region, having debuted at HKD 115 per share earlier in the day.

The blue-chip technology stocks were on the front foot in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics up 1.21% and SK Hynix rising 2%.

"The S&P 500 hit a new record high last night as the bulls are back in control," said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

"In Asia, equity markets have recouped some of yesterday's losses thanks to the overall positive mood circulating, European markets are expected to have a positive open."

Madden noted that the CMC US dollar Index hit its highest level since 21 December on hopes that the American economy would continue its relative strength, especially given an additional stimulus scheme was in the pipeline.

"EUR-USD is trading below 1.2000, a two month low.

"Gold also fell to a two month low due to the rally in the greenback.

"Silver, copper and platinum suffered as a result of the dollar's positive move too."

Oil prices were higher as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last up 1.04% at $59.45 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate adding 1.07% to $56.83.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1.1% to 6,840.50, as the hefty financials index lifted the broader index, rising 1.85%.

The big four banks were all higher in the sunburnt country, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group up 2.06%, Commonwealth Bank of Australia ahead 1.81%, National Australia Bank rising 2.15%, and Westpac Banking Corporation in the green by 2.03%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 managed gains of 0.48% to 13,053.87, as long-term bond yields continued to rise in the country.

The 10-year Kiwi Bond yield was 1.4% by the end of trading, having risen 20 basis points over the week.

Local analysts said investors were pricing in a possible tightening of monetary policy from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, after the central bank said it would purchase NZD 570m of government securities in the coming week, in line with the previous week.

The down under dollars painted a mixed picture against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.12% stronger at AUD 1.3241, while the Kiwi retreated 0.13% to change hands at NZD 1.3991.
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