Asian markets on a positive note to end the week; Australia’s ANZ Bank reports $1.48 billion Q1 results

<p>Asian stocks finished the week on a high after earlier volatility. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was up around 1% in early afternoon Tokyo trading. […]</p>

Asian stocks finished the week on a high after earlier volatility. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was up around 1% in early afternoon Tokyo trading. Japan’s Nikkei 225 average was the regional standout, up around 1.6%. S&P500 index futures were little changed, consolidating their overnight gains.

In regional currencies, the yen continues to depreciate against the US dollar, a development that many Japanese exports will be welcoming. Honda Motors, and Mitsubishi, among other Japanese exporters, led the market higher.

There still is a long way to go however to get towards levels the Bank of Japan is comfortable with. The US dollar rose above 79 against the yen, last trading at 79.07.

In regional economic news, Singapore’s exports decline in January with non-oil domestic exports down 2.1% compared to the same period last year. The decline followed a 9% rise in December. Market consensus estimates were for a decline in the order of 1.6% so the actual direction was not surprising but the pace of decline above expectations.

In regional corporate news, ANZ Bank pleased the market with its first quarter result which showed cash earnings of around $1.48bn, in line with market expectations.

Baidu – the owner of China’s leading search engine – said it expects growth via traditional channels and more recently through rising mobile services this year, driving a better than expected increase in fourth quarter profits.

Australian surfwear group Billabong jumped more than 46% after announcing plans to divest its investment in Nixon and redeploy capital towards paying down debt. Billabong also announce it had received a takeover approach from private equity group TPG valuing its shares at $3, but it opted to move with its own capital management plans.



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