Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index soars above 3% as Asia stocks rise


SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific were higher in Friday trade as investors in the region shrugged heavy losses overnight on Wall Street that saw the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite plunging nearly 4%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index led gains among the region’s major markets, rising 3.33% in afternoon trade.

Financial stocks in Hong Kong surged in Friday trade, with shares of HSBC soaring 5.08% while Standard Chartered jumped 4.74% after the Bank of England on Thursday announced its second straight rate hike.

We think what the dominant theme, at least for the first half of this year, is going to be around interest rates,” Kieran Calder, head of equity research for Asia at UBP, told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Friday. Financials are set to be the “main beneficiary” of this trend due to factors such as higher net interest income and yields, he explained.

Markets in Hong Kong returned to trade on Friday after being closed for most of this week due to the Lunar New Year holidays. Over in mainland China, markets remain closed on Friday for the holidays.

South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.57% to close at 2,750.26.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan recovered from earlier losses, closing 0.73% higher at 27,439.99 while the Topix index climbed 0.55% to 1,930.56. The S&P/ASX 200 in Australia advanced 0.6% on the day to 7,120.20.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.11%.

Wall Street drop

U.S. stock futures later pointed to a reversal of some of those losses, following strong quarterly results from tech companies like Amazon and Snap. Dow futures climbed 227 points. S&P 500 futures gained 1.25% while Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 2.14%.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.264 — having declined from above 96.6 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 115 per dollar, weaker than levels below 114.5 seen against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7129, largely holding on to gains after its rise from below $0.702 earlier in the trading week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures rising 0.35% to $91.43 per barrel. U.S. crude futures gained 0.54% to $90.76 per barrel.



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