Asia Markets: Samsung helps lift Kospi as Asian markets gain

Asia-Pacific equities were broadly higher Friday, with fresh early weakness in China and Korea reversing.

South Korea’s Kospi SEU, +0.27%  , which started the day in negative territory, was recently up 0.1% and Samsung 005930, +2.25%   rebounded 1.8%. The index had only just set an eight-week closing low Thursday.

Meanwhile, bitcoin BTCUSD, +0.34%   garnered significant market interest as the cryptocurrency’s surge this week continued into Asian trading, topping $17,000 for the first time, according to CoinDesk.

“It may not be a coincidence that as financial stress in China creeps up and [President Donald] Trump throws Middle East peace under a bus, demand for bitcoin picks up,” said Greg Gibbs, an analyst at Amplifying Global FX Capital.

He noted there was even evidence that investors are starting to rotate out of gold toward bitcoin, indicating “a shift from the old world haven to the haven for the digital world.” Gold futures were recently down 0.2% at around $1,251 per troy ounce after falling 1% Thursday to a four-month settlement low.

The Chinese stock upturn came ahead of November trade data. The figures should be reasonably neutral, “which suggests that China should be able to keep ticking along,” said Rob Carnell, ING chief economist and head of research for Asia Pacific.

Meanwhile, prospects of a potential U.S. government shutdown this weekend were erased, which has “led to a bit of a reversal today” across Asia, he added.

The Shenzhen Composite 399106, +0.84%  , which came into Friday’s trading down 5% this year and badly lagging other markets globally, was recently up 0.6%.

Meanwhile, investors continue to flock into Japanese stocks after Wednesday’s swoon. After climbing 1.4% Thursday, the Nikkei Stock Average NIK, +1.06%   finished morning trading up a further 1.2%, nearly erasing the week’s drop. The dollar JPYUSD, -0.212663%   was recently at ¥113.35 after finishing Tokyo stock trading Thursday around ¥112.50.

Moreover “this morning’s stronger-than-expected Japanese third-quarter GDP print…should further add to risk-taking,” says OCBC Bank.

Tech stocks, recently roughed up, again led the rebound in Japan. Tokyo Electron 8035, +3.33%   rose 3.2% to put the week’s gain at 4.3%. But that is a fraction of the 11% slide the stock suffered last week, its biggest in 2½ years.

The recovery in technology stocks also propelled moves in other markets.

Meanwhile, investors are on watch for a potential deal to Brexit talks, as a breakthrough in talks between the U.K. and the European Union appeared close. The pound jumped during U.S. trading Thursday and was little changed in Asia.

In commodities, oil prices eased 0.1% in Asian trading after rebounding some 1.5% overnight.

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