Asian stocks outside South Korea finished higher on Friday, thanks to a positive lead from Wall Street overnight. However, trading was relatively light, with markets in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines closed for public holidays.
Overnight, U.S. stocks finished near highs, with the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) at a record on the back of better-than-expected earnings releases and progress towards near-term resolution in the Greece's debt crisis. The blue-chip Dow (Dow Jones Global Indexes: .DJI) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) gained 0.4 and 0.8 percent, respectively.
Mainland markets rise
Stock markets in the mainland rallied on the final trading day of the week, with a key futures contract on the CSI300 index set for delivery by the close of business finally rising above the level of its benchmark, Reuters reported.
China's benchmark Shanghai Composite enlarged gains to close up 3.5 percent, while the CSI300 index rocketed nearly 4 percent. The Shenzhen Composite charged up 5 percent.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng (Hong Kong Stock Exchange: .HSI) index moved up 1 percent to a nine-day peak.
Brokerages were among the biggest movers in Shanghai and Hong Kong; Haitong Securities (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 837-SZ) rose 3.5 and 7.1 percent in Shanghai and Hong Kong, respectively, while Citic Securities (Shanghai Stock Exchange: 30-SZ) bounced up 3.7 and 8.7 percent, respectively.
"One of the [supportive factors] today was that the brokers will be allowed to extend their proprietary positions... the fact remains that brokerages are pumping up [the market] via proprietary books. Any more books coming into market will be a support mechanism," Gavin Parry, managing director at Parry International Trading, told CNBC.
Underperforming the bourse, Hong Kong-listed China LNG Group (Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 931-HK) tumbled 17.1 percent as trading in its shares resumed for the first time since U.S.-based Glaucus Research described the firm was "a start-up without any proprietary intellectual property."
In Taiwan, chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (Taiwan Stock Exchange: 2330-TW) (TSMC) surged 2.6 percent following better-than-expected results for the second quarter, outpacing the broader index.
Nikkei adds 0.3%
Japan's Nikkei 225 (Nihon Kenzai Shinbun: .N225) chalked up a five-day winning streak on Friday, as the yen (:OSEJPY=) hovered near its weakest level against the greenback in more than three weeks, but gains were limited ahead of a long weekend.
Sharp (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 6753.T-JP) was in focus after tanking 3.5 percent following a report by the Nikkei business daily which said the electronics company is set to swing to an operating loss in the April-June quarter.
Toshiba (Tokyo Stock Exchange: 6502.T-JP) recouped early losses to move up 2 percent on the back of news that the company is expecting $2.4-3.2 billion in charges related to improper accounting in an expanding probe.
Australia's S&P ASX 200 (^AXJO) index finished little changed from the previous day's close, losing the upward momentum which had carried the benchmark index through a three-day rally.
Among the losers, Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG-AU) retreated 2 percent, while oil and gas producer Santos (ASX:STO-AU) receded nearly 1 percent after it said its second-quarter sales revenue fell 19 percent due to falling energy prices.
Financials mostly recouped their losses in the afternoon session, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA-AU) and National Australia Bank eking out marginal gains. Australia and New Zealand Banking (ASX:ANZ-AU) andWestpac (ASX:WBC-AU) closed down 0.6 and 0.2 percent, respectively.
Kospi drops 0.5%
South Korea's Kospi (Korea Stock Exchange: .KS11) index pulled back from a two-week intra-day high to close in the red, as blue chips raked up steep losses.
Steelmaker Posco (Korea Stock Exchange: 549-KR) plunged 3 percent on news that it is scrapping plans for a $12 billion project it had agreed to set up in India a decade ago due to a new law which made it more costly to source iron ore for the plant.
Hyundai Motor (Korea Stock Exchange: 538-KR) and KB Financial Group (Korea Stock Exchange: 556-KR) eased 2.8 and 2 percent, respectively.
Shares of Samsung C&T (Korea Stock Exchange: 83-KR) and Cheil Industries erased early gains to dive 10.4 and 7.7 percent, respectively, after a majority of the former's shareholders approved a merger with its sister company. Cheil is the de facto holding company of Samsung Group.
U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates, Samsung C&T's largest shareholder, had opposed to the terms of the merger, saying it undervalues the company.
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