Asian stock markets bounced back Friday as upbeat U.S. economic data helped shake off worries about future increases in U.S. interest rates.
Trading was subdued as Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.
The Conference Board index of leading indicators, a measure of U.S. economic health, rose in February by the largest amount in three months, suggesting growth should bounce back following a harsh winter. Separately, U.S. jobless benefits rose to near pre-recession levels, suggesting stable job market in the world’s largest economy.
The numbers helped to perk up stocks after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen unsettled investors by suggesting earlier this week that U.S. interest rates could rise sooner than markets were anticipating.
South Korea’s Kospi dropped, then climbed to 1,931.22 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.6 percent to 21,313.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.8 percent to 5,338.10.
In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index advanced 1.8 percent to 2,029.76 even as China’s currency remained weak. The you-ann was trading at 6.2238, the lowest in about 13 months.
A recent loosening of exchange rate controls has helped speed the currency’s decline. Analysts believe authorities are trying to clamp down on unrealistic credit growth and discourage speculators, as for the past several years the Yuan has slowly appreciated in value.
In Toronto, the TSX closed up 27.29 points at 14,361; on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.7 percent to 16,331.05 on Thursday and the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.6 percent to 1,872.01. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.3 percent to 4,319.29.
In currencies, the euro rose slightly to $1.3785 from $1.3779 in late trading Thursday. The dollar dipped to 102.36 Japanese yen from 102.39.
Oil prices fell. Benchmark crude oil for May delivery was down 59 cents to $98.31 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 27 cents to settle at $98.90 on Thursday.
Brent crude, used to set prices for international varieties of crude, was down 31 cents to $106.14 a barrel.
In other energy futures trading in New York:
— Wholesale gasoline fell 0.7 cent to $2.882 a gallon.
— Heating oil shed 0.7 cent to $2.906 a gallon.
— Natural gas dropped 3.6 cents to $4.333 per 1,000 cubic feet.