Asia markets rise, with Nikkei up 0.8 per cent

Asia markets rise, with Nikkei up 0.8 per cent

Asia markets traded higher on Monday after most were shut for Good Friday, with a weaker yen helping to bolster Japan shares.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 was up 0.75 per cent, while the Topix added 0.65 per cent in early trade. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi added 0.19 per cent.

Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong remain closed today.

On the currency front, fresh strength in the greenback helped to push down the yen, with the dollar/yen pair trading at 113.45 as of 8:24 a.m. HK/SIN time, compared with 113.04 on Friday.

Japanese exporters were mixed, with shares of Toyota flat, Nissan up 0.6 per cent and Honda lower by 0.26 per cent. Usually a weaker yen is a positive for exporters as it boosts their overseas profits when converted into local currency.

Down Under, the Australian dollar slipped to $0.7494 (S$0.77) in the morning local time, compared with levels as high as $0.7533 on Friday.

The dollar has been edging higher on the idea that the Fed could give serious consideration to a rate hike at its April meeting. Pushing that thinking - and the dollar - is the Fed itself. A handful of Fed officials have said in the past week that a rate hike could be coming soon.

In corporate news, Sharp shares were up 5.56 per cent after Reuters cited sources saying the troubled electronics maker is set to sign its takeover deal by Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn by this week. In recent weeks, the deal had stalled after Sharp revealed around $2.66 billion of previously undisclosed contingent liabilities.

Elsewhere, Dow Jones reported Daniel Loeb's Third Point investment firm sent a letter to the Japanese retail store operator Seven & I holdings, urging its board to make any succession plan based on the interests of shareholders.

Dow Jones reported that while the investment firm doesn't endorse any particular candidate, it said the president of Seven-Eleven Japan, Ryuichi Isaka, was qualified to be a leading candidate to replace Seven & i's current chief executive office.

Shares of Seven & i were up 1.14 per cent.

This week sees a slew of important data releases, with investors looking ahead to US non-farm payroll numbers for March and the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey of business sentiment, both due Friday. No major economic data are due today.

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