Asian Shares Rise On U.S. Debt Deal Optimism

Asian stocks ended Friday’s session broadly higher after reports suggested U.S. lawmakers are inching closer to an agreement that would raise the debt limit for about two years and cap federal spending at the same level as fiscal 2023 for two years.

The dollar eased on optimism that the U.S. government would avert a government default. Gold edged higher, while oil prices were broadly higher after having fallen sharply overnight following conflicting messages from Russia and Saudi Arabia ahead of the next OPEC+ policy meeting.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index settled 0.4 percent higher at 3,212.50, reversing early losses as authorities rushed to push out vaccines to combat a new wave of the coronavirus that is expected to peak in June. Hong Kong’s market was closed for a public holiday.

Sino-U.S. tensions also remained on investors’ radar after the U.S. State Department warned that China is capable of launching cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, including oil and gas pipelines and rail systems.

Japanese shares eked out modest gains as the yen weakened on expectations of another Fed interest rate hike at the June policy meeting.

Softer-than-expected Tokyo inflation data also spurred more expectations that the Bank of Japan will hold off on tightening policy this year.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 0.4 percent to 30,916.31, while the broader Topix Index finished marginally lower at 2,145.84.

Positive earnings from U.S. chipmaker NVIDIA boosted tech stocks, with Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings surging 4-6 percent.

Seoul stocks edged up, with the Kospi ending 0.2 percent higher at 2,558.81 led by chip giants. Samsung Electronics rallied 2.2 percent and SK Hynix jumped 5.5 percent.

Australian markets inched higher but posted their worst weekly performance in more than two months. The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 percent to 7,154.80, snapping a four-session losing streak.

The broader All Ordinaries Index closed 0.2 percent higher at 7,334.50, led by miners. Investors shrugged off weaker than expected retail sales data for April.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX 50 Index tumbled 1.1 percent to 11,830.03.

U.S. markets ended broadly higher overnight as a blowout forecast from chipmaker Nvidia offset U.S. debt ceiling and interest rate worries.

In economic news, Q1 GDP was upwardly revised, while weekly jobless claims rose modestly in the week ended May 20th.

The Nasdaq Composite rallied 1.7 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.9 percent, while the Dow slipped 0.1 percent.

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