Asian markets advance after record rallies

Agence France-Presse
A pedestrian walks past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Nikkei 225 Index (R, top) and other Asian stock markets in Tokyo on February 26, 2020.
Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP

HONG KONG, China — Asian shares climbed Friday following a day of record highs in Japanese, US and European markets after demand for AI-powering chips drove tech gains.

Investors celebrated on Thursday as bumper profits reported by US chip giant Nvidia, seen as a bellwether for the artificial intelligence boom, helped boost Tokyo's benchmark index past a record high set in 1989.

The Nvidia and AI excitement prompted a broader rally in tech shares, with Wall Street and eurozone indices hitting fresh records.

"Investors in Asia are entering Friday's trading session riding the bull of optimism, buoyed by the U.S.-led surge in mega tech stocks that has fueled a global stock market boom," Stephen Innes, managing partner of SPI Asset Management, said in a note.

"The remarkable ascent witnessed across global markets on Thursday, driven by Nvidia's impressive 16.5% surge, is expected to set a positive tone for Asian markets on Friday."

Shanghai stocks finished higher, while Hong Kong was flat ahead of its close.

Sydney, Seoul, Taipei, Wellington, Mumbai, Manila and Kuala Lumpur were all up. Bangkok, Jakarta and Singapore were down.

Tokyo markets were closed Friday for a public holiday, following the Nikkei 225's record finish up 2.2 percent at 39,098.68, boosted by Nvidia's quarterly gains.

Nvidia shares on Thursday surged more than 16 percent, lifting its market value to almost $2 trillion, after it reported quarterly profits rose to $12.3 billion on record high revenue.

Tom Hulick at Strategy Asset Managers told Bloomberg that demand for AI was "surging worldwide across companies, industries and nations".

"We own NVDA and continue to hold the company. This is an exciting momentum play that we have been promoting and participating with for a few years now," he added.

Other tech giants, including Facebook owner Meta, Amazon and Microsoft -- among Nvidia's largest customers -- also saw gains.

On Thursday, three US Federal Reserve officials signalled interest rate cuts would more than likely come later this year, with one suggesting he wanted to see "at least another couple more months of inflation data" before deciding when to start lowering rates.

In China, data released Thursday showed the number of foreclosed properties for sale in the country increased at a faster pace last month, according to Bloomberg, reflecting the second-largest economy's struggling housing market.

But in one of the first positive signals for the beleaguered sector in nearly a year, Chinese home prices in January decreased at a slower pace for both new and existing units, official data showed Friday, according to Bloomberg.

"The slide in home prices may have passed its worst period," Yan Yuejin, research director at E-house China Research and Development Institute, told the financial newswire.

Many Chinese for years saw property as a safe place to park savings, but price drops have hit their wallets hard and some analysts say Beijing's support measures for the sector have so far had minimal effect.

Financial troubles at major property developers such as Evergrande and Country Garden have fuelled buyer mistrust in China, against a backdrop of unfinished housing developments and declining prices.

Key figures around 0710 GMT 

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for holiday

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: FLAT at 16,748.85

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.6 percent at 3,004.88

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0827 from $1.0826 on Thursday

Dollar/yen: UP at 150.58 yen from 150.54 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2667 from $1.2660

Euro/pound: UP at 85.48 pence from 85.47 pence

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 0.6 percent at $83.21 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.6 percent at $78.14 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 1.2 percent at 39,069.11 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,684.49 (close)

-- Bloomberg News contributed to this story --

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