Asian shares rise after moderate gains on Wall Street

Asian shares were mostly higher Friday after a moderate rise on Wall Street.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan‘s benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.0 percent to 20,783.67. Australia‘s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.7 percent to 5,906.90 in early trading, while South Korea’s Kospi was up 0.9 percent at 2,165.01. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.3 percent to 27,462.85, while the Shanghai Composite edged up 0.4 percent to 2,602.95.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Our view remains that shares will do better this year thanks to much improved valuations, likely policy support and a stabilization and improvement in global growth. But after a huge rebound since the December lows shares are vulnerable to a short term pull back/re-test of December lows in the face of a long worry list,” said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital.

WALL STREET: The S&P 500 index rose 3.63 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,642.33. The benchmark U.S. index is up 12.4 percent over the last month, but it has slipped 1.1 percent this week after big gains in each of the past four weeks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 22.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,553.24. About two-thirds of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange closed with gains, but major stock indexes didn’t move much.

INTEREST RATES: The European Central Bank did not change its interest rates or its projection for when it might start raising them. European Central Bank head Mario Draghi says risks to the European economy are increasing and the bank is ready to “adjust all of its instruments” if it runs into serious trouble. The ECB is aiming to raise rates even though the European economy has cooled as countries including Germany have lost some strength.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil added 67 cents to $53.80 a barrel. It rose 1 percent to $53.13 per barrel in New York overnight. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 69 cents to $61.78 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar edged up to 109.69 yen from 109.53 yen. The euro fell to $1.1320 from $1.1389.

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