Friday 03:05 BST. Asian markets were generally higher following a strong Wall Street session buoyed by corporate earnings, with Japanese stocks brushing off figures showing a fall in inflation.
The Nikkei 225 rose 0.6 per cent while the broader Topix gained 0.4 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index and the Shanghai Composite each gained 0.2 per cent. In Australia, however, the S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.3 per cent.
Japan’s core consumer price inflation slowed to an annual pace of 3.3 per cent in June from May’s 3.4 per cent. Excluding the effect of April’s consumption tax increase – which the Bank of Japan estimated would add two percentage points to the figure – core consumer prices rose 1.3 per cent in June, below the 2 per cent rate the central bank is targeting for 2015, excluding the sales tax effect.
The figures were in line with economists’ expectations, and stocks did not react much.
More recent data for Tokyo covering July showed that in the capital, consumer prices excluding fresh food rose at a 2.8 per cent annual rate, the same as in June.
Analysts at Credit Suisse focused on the effect on consumers of the relatively high rates of price increases caused by the sales tax rise. “Resilient and very high inflation rates from Japanese standards are problematic as it threatens recovery of real household consumption. It is important to reiterate that households’ nominal income gain was modest this spring,” they wrote.
The attraction of haven assets dimmed as the S&P 500 notched yet another record high close in New York, gaining 0.1 per cent to 1,987.9 as generally well-received earnings reports outweighed lingering geopolitical worries. Facebook shares jumped to twice their initial public offering price after the social media group’s earnings more than doubled, though Caterpillar and General Motors sank after their results disappointed
The price of gold for immediate delivery slipped 0.1 per cent to $1,293 per ounce in Singapore trading, putting the yellow metal on track for its second weekly price decline.
Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand’s NZX 50 lost 0.1 per cent after a survey by ANZ showed business confidence had fallen to a 14-month low in July, after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand raised interest rates four times since March.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s rupiah weakened 0.4 per cent to 11, 611 per US dollar, extending Thursday’s 0.5 per cent decline amid a bout of caution after the euphoria that accompanied reformist Jakarta governor Joko Widodo winning Indonesia’s presidential election.
Defeated presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has claimed the election process was fraudulent and plans to challenge the outcome in the constitutional court.