Asian shares climb, tracking gains in US stocks, oil prices

TOKYO – Asian shares rose Friday, tracking the rally in U.S. stocks that was driven by strong gains by energy companies and retailers. Rising oil prices also lifted sentiment. The retailers’ earnings fueled optimism for the U.S. government’s latest monthly tally of retail sales Friday.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock index rose 0.7 per cent to 16,856.27 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.8 per cent to 22,757.22. The Shanghai Composite index added 0.4 per cent to 3,015.62 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 per cent to 5,522.10. Shares in Southeast Asia were mostly higher.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.6 per cent to 18,613.52, up 0.1 per cent from its last record high set July 20. The S&P 500 index added 0.5 per cent to 2,185.79, up 0.13 per cent the high it set on Friday. The Nasdaq composite index gained 0.5 per cent to 5,228.40, up 0.1 per cent from its previous high. Energy stocks led the rally, getting a boost from a surge in oil prices. Investors also welcomed some better-than-expected quarterly results from Macy’s and Kohl’s, which spurred gains for several other big retail chains.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: “Asia Pacific markets are set to finish the week on a high following strong leads from European and US investors. Industrial commodities rose, led by oil, and overnight trading displayed “risk on” characteristics despite the lack of an obvious trigger,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist for CMC Markets said in a daily commentary.

OIL RALLIES: An industry report released Thursday projected a more even balance in the supply and demand for oil this year. “It’s been such an oversupplied market for a long period of time, to get that supply-demand closer to being in balance, or to be in balance, is a huge driver,” said David Chalupnik, head of equities for Nuveen Asset Management. “That should at least support the commodity price.”

OIL PRICES: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 19 cents to $43.68 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained $1.78, or 4.3 per cent, to close at $43.49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 14 cents to $46.18. It gained $1.99, or 4.3 per cent, to close at $46.04 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 101.97 yen from 101.86 on Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1144 from $1.1137.