China stocks lead advances in Asia-Pacific; yuan holds gains against dollar
SINGAPORE — Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mostly higher on Friday, with the Chinese yuan holding on to recent gains against the dollar.
Mainland Chinese stocks led advances among the region’s major markets, with the Shanghai composite up 2.07% to about 3,338.09 while the Shenzhen component advanced 1.766% to 13,245.09. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index finished its trading day 0.47% higher at 24,455.41.
Shares in Australia bucked the overall trend as they edged down on the day, with the S&P/ASX 200 0.32% lower at 5,864.50.
Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index gained 0.53%.
In corporate developments, shares of Malaysian glove maker Top Glove were up more than 2%, as of about 4:15 p.m. local time in Malaysia.
The firm on Thursday announced its earnings for the fourth quarter and full financial year 2020, with profit after tax for the full financial year 2020 surging 417% from the previous financial year. In a press release, the firm said the “tremendous growth stemmed from a global surge in demand for gloves on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Over in Japan, conglomerate Softbank Group saw its stock slip 1.09% on the day. The firm announced it will sell its entire stake in mobile services firm Brightstar, which was founded by Marcelo Claure, SoftBank’s current chief operating officer.
Chinese yuan maintains strength against dollar
The onshore Chinese yuan, which strengthened significantly against the greenback in recent days, traded at 6.7587 per dollar in the afternoon of Asian trading hours following levels above 6.81 seen earlier this week. It’s offshore counterpart changed hands at 6.7567 per dollar.
“As the dollar has entered this dollar depreciation, this weaker dollar environment, the (yuan) has somewhat lagged.” said JPMorgan Private Bank’s Alex Wolf.
“When we’re looking at the (yuan), we actually haven’t seen a move up that much until recently,” Wolf, who is head of investment strategy for Asia at the firm, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Friday. He added that the Chinese currency likely has “more catch-up to go.”
Tech shares mixed
Shares of technology firms in Asia-Pacific were mixed on Friday. In Japan, shares of Sharp rose 1.88%. Over in South Korea, industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics’ stock slipped 0.34% while Kakao advanced 0.54%.
The regional moves in tech stocks came amid renewed pressure seen in stocks of their counterparts on Wall Street. Overnight stateside, the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.3% to close at 10,910.28.The tech-heavy benchmark briefly dipped back into correction territory, down 10% from its all-time high.
Oil prices higher
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, sat at 92.889 after falling from levels above 93.3 earlier in the trading week.
The Japanese yen traded at 104.54 per dollar, having strengthened from levels above 105.5 against the greenback seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.7313, in a trading week that has seen it swinging between levels below $0.729 and above $0.732.
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