Tokyo closed above 10,000 points on the back of a strengthening greenback
Asian stocks were mostly positive on Monday with Japan climbing steadily and Sydney shaking off concerns over the rise of the Australian dollar after news of the death of Osama bin Laden. Tokyo closed
above 10,000 points on the back of a strengthening greenback amid optimism Wall Street shares would rise following the death of the Al-Qaeda mastermind, dealers said.
It was the first time the Nikkei index had closed above the key 10,000 level since the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which left 26,000 dead or missing and plunged Japan into its worst crisis since World War II.
Sydney clawed its way back into positive territory, adding 2.1 points to 4825.3. Seoul jumped 1.67 %. Hong Kong and Shanghai were among a number of markets closed for a public holiday.
The Nikkei closed up 154.46 points, or 1.57 %, at 10,004.20. The Topix index added 13.70 points, or 1.61 %, to 865.55.
Trade was thin with many investors away for the Golden Week holidays. Tokyo markets will be shut from Tuesday and will reopen Friday.
Analysts said they expected buying would fade and profit-taking would emerge after the break, following a 4.7 % gain on the Nikkei over the last three sessions.
Shares were benefiting from a lead in New York on Friday and traders appeared to be at ease with Japanese earnings figures, which are showing some resilience, despite lingering uncertainty caused by the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
\"There seems to be an impression that earnings are relatively solid (despite the disaster) with a certain degree of recovery anticipated by the second half of the fiscal year,\" Takashi Ushio, general manager at Marusan Securities told Dow Jones Newswires.
Shares received a further boost after the midday break as the yen dipped and the dollar strengthened when US President Barack Obama announced that bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan on Sunday.
\"This doesn\'t mean terrorism will come to an end, but it\'s a positive trading incentive since the manhunt had been going on for more than a decade,\" said Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager at Daiwa Securities said.
Stocks in Sydney were initially dragged lower by a rising Aussie dollar, which hit a new historic high of US$1.1020 US cents early Monday, before falling back to $1.0945. They climbed out of the hole later in the day as news of bin Laden\'s death cheered investors.
\"The Aussie dollar is obviously a concern for the Australian share market at these levels,\" said MarketsPlus head of sales trading Scott Johnson. \"We are waiting for potentially good results from the banks this week, but there\'s a little bit of apprehension in the broader market.\"
The US dollar has been under pressure after the Fed said last week it had no timetable on raising interest rates and that loose monetary policy would continue.
The euro, which benefited from speculation there will be a series of interest rate hikes by the European Central Bank this year, came under selling pressure against the dollar on the bin Laden news and a fall in oil prices, dealers said.
The European unit eased to $1.4764 from $1.4864 in earlier trade, before rebounding slightly to $1.4795. The dollar rose to 81.66 yen from 81.19 earlier, before easing back to 81.41.
The death of bin Laden \"is not going to help the dollar\" longer-term, said Daisuke Karakama, market economist at Mizuho Corporate Bank.
\"The Fed policy is far more critical for the dollar... The dollar will stay weak against currencies excluding the yen\" whose interest rates are likely to stay ultra-low for long time, he said.
In New York on Friday, US stocks rose modestly, despite mixed economic data and a tumble in Microsoft shares, with the New York Stock Exchange notching up its strongest monthly gain of the year.
Oil eased in Asian trade ahead of the release of a slew of key US economic data, analysts said, with bin Laden\'s death not seen as having a big impact on the market.
\"I don\'t think that news should result in a clear direction on crude,\" said Ben Westmore, a Melbourne-based commodity economist with National Australia Bank.
New York\'s main contract, light sweet crude for June delivery, was down $1.25 cents to $112.68 from New York\'s close and Brent North Sea crude for June eased 79 cents to $125.10.
In Wellington, the NZX-50 index fell 0.61 percent, or 23.46 points, to 3,497.86 as news of Osama bin Laden\'s death failed to buoy a market hit by profit taking after recent gains.
Market heavyweight Fletcher Building slipped 1.3 % to NZ$9.07, Telecom Corp. was down 0.9 % at NZ$2.15 and Air New Zealand was unchanged on NZ$1.11.
Seoul closed 1.67 % higher as construction stocks rose following a government restructuring plan for the industry, and tech-sector issues gained on bargain-hunting.
The benchmark KOSPI ended up 36.60 points at 2,228.96.
Manila closed 0.16 % higher on reports of good earnings by listed firms and gains on Wall Street last week, dealers said.
The composite index added 7.25 points to close at 4,326.76.
Among the day\'s gainers were power generation firm First Gen, which rose 2.7 % at 15 pesos and Philex Mining which put on 3.5 % at 18.42 pesos.