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Nikkei breaks through 20,000 for first time since 2015

Friday 03.15 BST

Overview

Stocks in Asia outside mainland China were higher on Friday, with the Nikkei 225 breaching 20,000 points following a record close for Wall Street and as the weaker yen boosted Japanese shares.

Hot topic

Japan’s price-focused Nikkei 225 was up 1.4 per cent and above 20,000 points for the first time since early December 2015. Likewise, the broader Topix benchmark, up 1.2 per cent on Friday, was above 1,600 points also for the first time in 18 months.

So far this year, the Topix is up 5.4 per cent and has recovered 10 per cent from its 2017 low in mid-April.

A number of other markets in Asia are also trading at or around multiyear highs. South Korea’s Kospi is at a record high, while Taiwan’s Taiex is at its highest since early 2000. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is at its highest since July 2015.

The S&P 500 jumped 0.8 per cent on Thursday to a record high, while the FTSE All-World Index also chalked up a new peak.

Forex

Down 0.2 per cent at ¥‎111.63 per dollar, the yen was the worst-performing major currency and eyeing a second straight day of declines. However, this was providing a fillip for stocks.

The British pound, which has endured some whippy trading this week as traders weighed the outlook for next week’s national election, was next worst, down 0.1 per cent at $1.2877 on Friday.

China’s renminbi was 0.2 per cent weaker at Rmb6.8182 per dollar, pulling back from a six-month high as policymakers were said to have supported the currency this week.

Most other major currencies gained against the greenback, with the dollar index, a measure of the US currency against a basket of global peers, flat at 97.207.

The Australian dollar was up 0.1 per cent, recovering from two days of hefty declines following disappointing economic data and weaker commodity prices.

Equities

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.8 per cent and eyeing a fourth straight day of gains. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.4 per cent. Mainland China stocks were having a tougher time, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.3 per cent and the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite off by twice as much.

Commodities

Oil prices were on track for their longest winning streak since late March. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was down 0.4 per cent in Asia at $50.42 a barrel and eyeing a fourth straight day of declines. West Texas Intermediate shed 0.5 per cent to $48.11.

Gold was down 0.3 per cent at $1,262.32 an ounce, while iron ore futures in China were up 1.4 per cent after shedding a combined 14.8 per cent in the previous six sessions.

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