Asian shares mixed after record close on Wall St

PHOTO: Asian shares mixed after record close on Wall St

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed on Friday, with a record-breaking close on Wall Street offset by profit-taking after the previous day's broad gains.

Japan's Nikkei edged higher, however, as traders bought back into the dollar following comments from the head of the US Federal Reserve that its stimulus programme would be kept in place for some time.

Tokyo rose 0.23 per cent, or 33.67 points, to 14,506.25 and Sydney added 0.17 per cent, or 8.2 points, to close at 4,973.9. But Seoul dipped 0.41 per cent, or 7.62 points, to 1,869.98

Shanghai fell 1.62 per cent, or 33.51 points, to 2,039.49 as profit-takers moved in after enjoying a more than three per cent rally Thursday. Hong Kong slipped 0.74 per cent in late trade.

Regional sentiment was largely positive after the Dow and S&P 500 surged to new highs on Wall Street as investors cheered Ben Bernanke's statement that the Fed would continue its bond-buying "for the foreseeable future".

While he said the economy was showing signs of strength, Bernanke was still concerned about high unemployment and inflation.

The Dow surged 1.11 per cent and the S&P 500 rallied 1.36 per cent, while the Nasdaq added 1.63 per cent to end at its highest level since September 2000.

Bernanke's comments came as a surprise, with most economists expecting the bank to begin winding down the easy-money scheme that was introduced in September and has fuelled a rally in global markets.

The news sent the dollar tumbling about 2.5 per cent against the yen on Thursday before it picked up a tad to sit at 98.90 yen by New York's close on Thursday.

And in afternoon Tokyo trade on Friday it rose to 99.00 yen (S$1.2602) . The euro fetched US$1.3059 (S$1.6562) and 129.31 yen compared with US$1.3092 and 129.50 yen.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI), for delivery in August, eased 11 cents to US$104.80 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for August shed eight cents to US$107.65.

WTI hit a 15-month high of US$107.45 in New York on Thursday and Brent reached US$108.93.

Gold fetched US$1,276.28 per ounce at 0655 GMT, compared with US$1,283.45 late Thursday.

In other markets:

Taipei rose 0.50 per cent, or 40.95 points, to 8,220.49.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 0.46 per cent to Tw$110.0 (S$4.66) while smartphone maker HTC fell 1.03 per cent to Tw$191.5.

Wellington added 0.18 per cent, or 8.28 points, to 4,568.33.