Japanese Stocks Surge to Fresh 21-Year High Ahead of November Polls

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By Investors Hub

Asian stock markets closed mostly higher on Friday after strong trade data from China added to evidence of strength in the world’s second-largest economy. Data showed Chinese import growth in September exceeded expectations, while exports expanded at a slower than expected pace but remained robust.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 5.44 points or 0.2 percent to 3,391.54, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index inched up 17.40 points or 0.1 percent to 28,476.43.

Japanese stocks surged to a fresh 21-year high, boosted by optimism that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party will win the general elections later this month.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index jumped 200.46 points or 1 percent to finish at 21,155.18, its highest level since September of 1996. The broader Topix Index added 0.5 percent to settle at 1,708.62.

Shares of Fast Retailing surged up 5.5 percent after the index heavyweight reported a record profit for the fiscal year ended in August.

Meanwhile, Kobe Steel shares tumbled 8.7 percent after the company’s data scandal revealed 30 companies outside Japan, including General Motors, Tesla, Boeing and Airbus, received aluminum and other products with falsified specifications.

The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Japan’s Asahi Brewery could sell its almost 20 percent stake in Tsingtao Brewery as part of efforts to grow its business in Europe. Shares of Asahi Group gained 1.8 percent.

The Australian market closed at its highest level since June 2017, reflecting gains by healthcare stocks after the federal government announced plans for proposed healthcare reforms.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 19.70 points or 0.3 percent to settle at 5,814.20. The broader All Ordinaries Index added 20.60 points or 0.4 percent to close at 5,884.70.

Shares of health insurance companies rose after the federal government announced plans to release a raft of proposed changes that promise cheaper premiums and easier access to mental healthcare. NIB Holdings gained 1 percent and Medibank Private advanced almost 2 percent.

Mining stocks advanced on news of strong iron ore imports by China in September. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 0.6 percent each, while Fortescue Metals added 0.4 percent.

Oil stocks recovered from early losses despite lower crude oil prices. Woodside Petroleum added 0.3 percent, Santos rose 0.5 percent and Oil Search added 0.2 percent.

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