HONG KONG (AP) â€” Asian stocks mostly drifted higher Friday after a raft of strong U.S. earnings reports helped firm up investor sentiment strong while Chinese benchmarks showed further signs of revival.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.2 percent to 20,645.66 while South Korea's Kospi lost 0.6 percent to 2,076.20. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.9 percent to 25,397.55 & the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China jumped 1.5 percent to 3,878.57. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up less than 0.1 percent to 5,670.20.
GLOBAL OUTLOOK: U.S. & European markets rose sharply, helped by strong second quarter results from companies such as Netflix, eBay & Citigroup & news that European authorities would provide short term financial assist to Greece after it passed an austerity bill needed for more bailout cash.
p>ANALYST INSIGHT: "Traders will be looking to assess fair value for stocks against a macro background of downside risks to China's economy & commodity prices & the likelihood that the U.S. will shortly commence to lift interest rates," said Ric Spooner, chief analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, Australia.
SAMSUNG VOTE: South Korean markets were awaiting the outcome of a vote by shareholders on combining two companies in the vast Samsung empire. The decision on whether to allow construction firm Samsung C&T's takeover by Cheil Industries is a crucial part of a once-in-a-generation leadership shift at Samsung, a conglomerate with dozens of businesses yet best known globally for its Samsung Electronics brand. The takeover has met unexpected strong opposition led by a U.S. hedge fund.
WALL STREET: Strong corporate earnings reports helped lift the major U.S. benchmarks. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.4 percent to 18,120.25 & the S&P 500 gained 0.8 percent to 2,124.29. The Nasdaq composite climbed 1.3 percent to 5,163.18.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was up 26 cents to $51.17 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 50 cents to close at $50.91 a barrel in New York on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 20 cents to close at $57.12 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar eased to 124.15 yen from 124.18 in late trading Thursday. The euro rose to $1.0892 from $1.0879.
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Source: “Associated Press”