HONG KONG—Asian markets mostly rose further Thursday following another record performance from Wall Street, while Tokyo hit fresh multi-year highs as the dollar approached the 100 yen mark.
While buying sentiment remains positive, dealers are keeping an eye on the stand-off on the Korean peninsula as the North, expected to fire a missile within the next few days, ratchets up its bellicose rhetoric.
Tokyo rose 1.96 percent, or 261.03 points, to 13,549.16, while Seoul added 0.73 percent, or 14.22 points, to 1,949.80, and Sydney was 0.79 percent higher, advancing 39.1 points to 5,007.1.
Hong Kong added 0.30 percent, or 66.71 points, to end at 22,101.27, but Shanghai eased 0.30 percent, or 6.58 points, to 2,219.55.
Regional markets extended their recent positive run on the back of a Wall Street rally fueled by minutes from the last Federal Reserve policy meeting reasserting a commitment to keep easy-money policies in place until the jobs market picks up.
The minutes said: “Many participants… expressed the view that continued solid improvement in the outlook for the labor market could prompt the committee to slow the pace of purchases beginning at some point over the next several meetings.”
The March 19-20 meeting came after a February jobs surge, which added 268,000 non-farm payrolls.
But March data released last week showed a paltry gain of 88,000 jobs, the slowest growth in nine months and below expectations, leading dealers to bet there will not be any hurry to ease up on stimulus.
On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.88 percent and the S&P 500 surged 1.22 percent, with both indexes closing at fresh record highs. The Nasdaq added 1.83 percent.
In Tokyo the dollar moved to within a whisker of the 100-yen mark before easing slightly as buying sentiment remains supported by last week’s monetary easing measures laid out by the Bank of Japan.
The dollar was quoted at 99.65 yen in afternoon Asian trade, against 99.76 yen in New York late on Wednesday. It had peaked at 99.85 yen earlier Thursday in Tokyo.
The euro was at 130.39 yen against 130.26 yen while also buying $1.3082 from $1.3068.
“With momentum on its side and Bank of Japan policy in place to push it, the dollar’s break through 100 yen is just a matter of time,” said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities.
The dollar last topped 100 yen in April 2009.
Dealers were keeping an eye on North Korea, watching for the expected missile test, while South Korean and US forces raised their alert status to “vital threat” as the Pentagon warned Pyongyang it was “skating very close to a dangerous line.”
On oil markets prices slipped, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, dropping 32 cents to $94.32 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for May delivery shedding 34 cents to $105.45.
Gold was at $1,558.48 an ounce at 1100 GMT compared with $1,581.50 late on Wednesday.
In other markets:
— Taipei jumped 1.36 percent, or 105.18 points, to 7,857.98.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. gained 3.26 percent to Tw$101.5 while leading smartphone maker HTC was 3.64 percent higher at Tw$256.5.
— Manila closed 0.23 percent higher, adding 15.90 points to 6,831.74.
Ayala Corp. rose 0.93 percent to 597 pesos but Philippine Long Distance Telephone slid 0.49 percent to 2,866 pesos.
— Wellington fell 0.24 percent, or 10.52 points, to 4,409.54.
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare slipped 2.4 percent to NZ$2.42 and Telecom was down 1.22 percent at NZ$2.43, while Chorus eased 0.37 percent to NZ$2.67.
— Mumbai’s Sensex rose 0.69 percent, or 127.75 points, to 18,542.2 points.
Tata Motors rose 3.92 percent to 278.15 rupees, while IT outsourcer Infosys rose 3.72 percent to 2,917.85.
— Singapore gained 0.47 percent, or 15.55 points, to close at 3,308.80.
Oil rig maker Keppel Corp gained 0.89 percent to Sg$11.40 while United Overseas Bank increased 1.57 percent to Sg$20.68.
— Kuala Lumpur gained 0.64 percent, or 10.84 points, to close at 1,707.04.
IOI Corp. surged 4.2 percent to 4.98 ringgit while Sime Darby gained 1.5 percent to end at 9.39. Genting Malaysia fell 0.5 percent to 3.71 ringgit.
— Jakarta ended up 0.96 percent, or 46.79 points, at 4,924.26.
Automotive manufacturer Astra International gained 2.65 percent to 7,750 rupiah, while retailer Hero Supermarket fell 1.57 percent to 4,700 rupiah.
— Bangkok rose 1.78 percent, or 26.56 points, to 1,516.81.
Coal producer Banpu closed unchanged at 362 baht, while energy giant PTT Plc added 0.96 percent to 317 baht.—Danny McCord