TOKYO: Asian shares gained on Friday as technology shares were boosted by upbeat earnings from US hi-tech giants while the euro hovered near three-month low against the dollar after the European Central Bank extended its stimulus.
Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.6 percent while South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.2 percent and Australian shares rose 0.2 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was flat in dollar terms.
Earnings from Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon.com, the world’s second, third and fifth largest companies by market capitalization, were all upbeat, boosting their shares in after-hour trade.
Shares in those companies rose 2.8 percent, 4.5 percent and 7.6 percent respectively. Prior to that, the US S&P 500 Index gained 0.1 percent to edge near the record high touched last week, thanks to the robust global economy and solid corporate earnings.
As third-quarter earnings season nears the half-way mark, 74 percent of US companies have topped expectations, above the 72 percent beat rate for the past four quarters.
The US House of Representatives helped pave the way on Thursday for deep tax cuts sought by President Donald Trump, passing a budget blueprint for fiscal 2018 that will enable the tax legislation to win congressional approval without any Democratic votes.
“On the whole, growth shares were strong yesterday both in the US and in Europe. And now that the Republicans can pass the tax reform, the tax cut debate now looks set to kick off next week,” said Nobuhiko Kuramochi , chief strategist at Mizuho Securities.
German shares hit record high while the pan-European Eurofirst 300 Index gained 1.1 percent, its biggest gains in 3 1/2 months, after the ECB extended its bond buying program to September.
Although the ECB halved the size of its bond purchase to 30 billion euro per month from January, it also promised years of stimulus and even left the door open to backtracking.
Euro zone bond yields plunged, with the benchmark 10-year German Bund yield falling about 6 basis points to 0.42 percent, the biggest daily fall in nine months.
Yields on debt issued by Southern European countries seen as less creditworthy also fell, with the premium that investors demand from Italian bonds falling to 1.53 percentage points, near 7 1/2-month low touched in early August.
In the currency market, the ECB’s dovish stance sent the euro to a three-month low of $1.1631. The dollar was little moved against the yen at 114.09, near Wednesday’s three-month high of 114.245. The Australian dollar slipped to 3 1/2-month low of $0.7654, smarting from a softer-than-expected local inflation data earlier in the week.
On the other hand, Brent crude futures held firm after closing at a 27-month high on Thursday as the market focused in on Saudi Arabia’s comments about ending a global supply glut, brushing off an unexpected increase in US crude inventories and high US production and exports.
Brent stood little changed at $59.32 a barrel, just below Thursday’s high of $59.55. US West Texas Intermediate crude fetched $52.64 a barrel, flat from Thursday’s six-month closing high.