Asia Carves Out Moderate Gains

Most major indexes in Asia closed with gains on Friday although the Australian benchmark tracked lower. Wall Street, for its part, closed its Thursday session with slight losses amid political concerns.

The Nikkei 225 average in Japan gained 44.69 points, or 0.2%, to 23,808.06. Financials closed higher on the day, with Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group advancing 1.4% by the end of the session.

Heavyweight Toyota tacked on 0.5% and Honda gained 0.7% by the end of the day. Among technology names, Nintendo finished the session 4.2% higher, extending gains following its Thursday release of new Nintendo Switch accessories.

Elsewhere, SoftBank Group on Thurday became Uber's largest shareholder after it officially closed a high-profile deal with the ride-hailing company. The deal had valued Uber at around $48 billion U.S., which was a discount to a previous valuation of nearly $70 billion. SoftBank shares closed lower by 0.3% underperforming most other Japanese tech stocks.

The Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong hiked 132.75 points, or 0.4%, to 32,254.89. Property developers recorded gains, with Country Garden climbing 3.3% while financials were mostly in negative territory.

Shares of Tencent, a heavily weighted constituent on the index, were higher by 0.5% ahead of the market close.

Trade in the shares of Wanda Hotel Development was halted Friday morning. The Hong Kong-listed developer said in a filing that the halt came before "a possible very substantial disposal."

Meanwhile, Ping An Insurance Group has raised almost $1 billion U.S. in funding ahead of a planned listing of a medical data unit, citing sources. Ping An said in a Thursday statement that it was "proactively developing" technologies that supported its main business, but advised "caution when dealing in the securities" of the company. Hong Kong-listed Ping An traded higher by 0.2%, as most other financial names declined.

Korean auto makers were in positive territory, with Hyundai Motor jumping 4.5% by the end of the session. Technology plays, however, were mostly lower. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics erased early gains to decline 1.2% while rival SK Hynix fell 2.5%.

In Australia, major mining and energy-related stocks were lower, with Rio Tinto losing 1%, BHP declining 0.3% and Santos falling 1.3% by the end of the day.

The Australian dollar rose to trade at $0.8009 U.S. in the wake of strong China economic data released in the previous session.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 picked up 13.98 points, or 0.3%, to 4,285.4,

The Kospi in Korea improved 4.45 points, or 0.2%, to 2,520.26

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index marched ahead 79.28 points, or 0.7%, to 11,150.86

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index moved up 29.05 points, or 0.8%, to 3,550.36

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 added 17.29 points, or 0.2%, to 8,289.96

In Australia, the ASX 200 tailed off 8.76 points, or 0.2%, to 6,005.81