Most Asia stocks pull higher ahead of Greek vote
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Hong Kong stocks lead most Asian markets higher on Friday amid hopes that global central banks may join hands to coordinate a policy response after this weekend's crucial election in Greece.
South Korean shares diverged, finishing lower as investors nervous about upcoming European events took profits, while Japanese stocks ended flat as exporters were hit by the yen's gains after the Bank of Japan left its monetary policy stance unchanged.
"Markets are in wait-and-see mode ahead of Greek elections, with range-trading likely to dominate market action, albeit with a slightly risk-on bias," said Mitul Kotecha, a strategist at Credit Agricole.
"It is not only the Fed that markets believe may act, with reports overnight suggesting that there may be some form of coordinated action by central banks should the Greek election outcome prove to be unfavorable," he added, referring to a Reuters news report that central banks stood ready to provide liquidity, if needed, which boosted stocks on Wall Street. Read more on U.S. stocks.
In Asia, the Hang Seng Index (HSI) jumped 2.3%, extending gains in late trading after European stock markets opened strongly, China's Shanghai Composite index (000001) climbed 0.5%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index (XJO) rose 0.4% and Taiwan's Taiex (Y9999) climbed 1.1%.
Most regional markets also finished the week on a positive note. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index again put in a strong performance, ending the week with a 4% gain, while the Taiex rose 2.2%.
Several financial stocks in the region rallied.
Performance in Tokyo was hit by the yen's strength after the BOJ paused on interest rates and on further monetary easing, avoiding policy action ahead of the Greek elections.
A rally in commodity prices, aided by the dollar's weakness, spurred several commodity stocks.
Shares of Chinese dairy producers declined on news Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. (600887) has recalled some milk powder products, after a government inspection found "unusual" levels of mercury in them. Shares of the company tumbled by the day's 10% limit in Shanghai, while
Among other notable movers, shares of department store operator