Asian stocks up on US housing data, Cisco earnings
BANGKOK (AP) — Encouraging signs about the U.S. housing market and strong earnings from U.S. tech giant Cisco helped lift Asian stock markets Friday.
The U.S. government reported that construction of single-family homes dipped last month, but building permits jumped to their highest level since August 2008, a hint of stronger construction in the coming months. Meanwhile, Cisco Systems, the world's largest maker of computer networking equipment, reported earnings that beat expectations.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 0.8 percent to 9,162.96. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 20,065.58 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.7 percent to 4,359.60. South Korea's Kospi fell, however, by 0.5 percent to 1,949.73.
"Asian markets are mainly up because of the better close on Wall Street. That provided a bit of confidence to risk appetite," said Lorraine Tan, director at Standard & Poor's equity research in Singapore.
"I think the main thing coming out of the macro side is that It looks like the U.S. economy is growing, albeit slowly," Tan said. "It is significant that it is not slowing further."
Markets also took encouragement from remarks by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Thursday that Germany is committed to doing everything it can to maintain the euro currency union.
Last month, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank would do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro and markets surged on hopes of action. Merkel supported Draghi's comments Thursday during an official visit to Canada.
"What he said is something we repeated time and again since the beginning of the Greek difficulties more than two years ago. We feel committed to do everything we can to maintain the common currency," Merkel said at a news conference.