Indices in Asia Stronger as Greenback Firms

Asian stocks closed higher on Friday as the U.S. dollar edged higher after slipping in the last session. Gains in the region were led by South Korea's Kospi, which bounced back after slipping in the last session.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 restored 156.34 points, or 0.7%, to finish the week at 21,892.78

The Hang Seng Index regained 301.49 points, or 1%, to 31,267.17

Oil-related stocks were higher as oil prices mostly held onto overnight gains. Inpex and JXTG Holdings added 2.1% and 3.3%, respectively, by the end of the session.

Automakers were also in positive territory, with Toyota climbing 0.7% The technology sector was a mixed picture: Heavyweight SoftBank Group added 1.4% and Sony closed higher by 0.1%

On the data front, Japan's core consumer price index rose 0.9% in January compared to one year ago, a touch above the 0.8% rise forecast

In Hong Kong, tech heavyweight Tencent contributed 42 points — the most among the index's constituents — to the Hang Seng's 351.91-point gains an hour before the market close.

The property sector was the best-performer in the afternoon and gains were seen across large cap developers. Country Garden jumped 6.1% and CK Asset was higher by 1.1% The financials sector also advanced, with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China gaining 1.4%.

Gains in Seoul were more convincing. Major technology stocks traded higher on the day, with Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix gaining 1% and 1.8% respectively.

Manufacturers were also in positive territory, with steelmaker Posco climbing 0.8%. Meanwhile, shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries rose 4% and Lotte Chemical added 4.2% by the end of the session.

In Sydney, major miners Rio Tinto and BHP closed up 0.9% and 1.6% respectively, contributing to the materials sector's overall gains.

Oil-related stocks were mostly higher at the end of the session as oil prices held onto gains made in the last session. Woodside Petroleum added 0.5% and Oil Search gained 0.7%, although oil producer Santos slipped 0.2%. Airline stocks also made gains, with Qantas up 2.7% after reporting record interim profit on Thursday.

Against the yen, the U.S. dollar firmed to trade at 107.05 after slipping as low as 106.58 in the overnight session.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar slipped 0.3% to trade at $0.7823 U.S. and the New Zealand dollar declined 0.6% to trade at $0.7298 U.S.
The chief of Australia's central bank has indicated that there was no pressing reason to raise rates anytime soon.

In individual stocks, shares of Australian supermarket chain Woolworths Group fell 2.6% after the company reported first-half net profit rose 14.7% to 902 million Australian dollars ($708 million U.S).

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank of Australia denied most of the 100 additional allegations made against the bank by Australian financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC in a Friday statement. CBA shares rose 1.1% by the end of Friday, leading gains seen in Australia's banking sector.

CHINA

The CSI 300 gained 18.36 points, or 0.5%, to 4,071.09

Of note, regulators in China said they would take over Anbang Insurance Group for a year beginning Feb. 23. The move came amid an ongoing crackdown on debt in China. Other Chinese insurers listed on the mainland finished the day in positive territory, with Ping An Insurance Group closing up 1.3%

In other markets

The Kospi in Korea recovered 37.24 points, or 1.5%, to 2,451.52

In Taiwan, the Taiex index jumped 132.17 points, or 1.2%, to 10,794.55

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index hiked 44.76 points, or 1.3%, to 3,533.22

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 34.84 points, or 0.4%, to 8,301.72

The ASX 200 added 48.9 points, or 0.8%, to 5,999.79