Hong Kong's Hang Seng leads gains in Asia;  Alibaba shares soar

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng leads gains in Asia; Alibaba shares soar

SINGAPORE — Shares in Asia-Pacific largely rose on Friday, with investors monitoring shares of Alibaba in Hong Kong after the Chinese tech giant posted better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday.

Shares of Alibaba listed in the city surged 12.21% after it reported Thursday fourth-quarter earnings of 7.95 yuan ($1.18) per share, excluding items, on revenues of 204.05 billion yuan ($30.28 billion).

That was higher than analyst expectations for earnings of 7.31 yuan a share on CNY199.25 billion in revenue, according to StreetAccount.

Other Chinese tech stocks in the city also had sizable gains, with Tencent rising 2.27% while Netease surged 4.43%. The broader Hang Seng index in Hong Kong climbed 2.89% to close at 20,697.36.

Mainland Chinese stocks were mixed, with the Shanghai Composite up 0.23% to 3,130.24 while the Shenzhen Component declined 0.118% to 11,193.59.

Chinese authorities held an unprecedented nationwide meeting via teleconference on Wednesday in a bid to bolster an economy battered by Covid, with Premier Li Keqiang warning of difficulties “even greater than the severe shock of the pandemic in 2020.”

“Premier Li’s directive for local [officials] to better balance COVID controls against economic growth, which has been cited as key to solving all problems, (from employment to livelihood and COVID containment), paves a path to a promising turnaround,” said Mizuho Bank’s Vishnu Varathan in a Friday note.

“Trouble is, this is an attempt at pain relief from, but not quite a panacea for, self-inflicted harm,” said Vishnu, who is head of economics and strategy at the firm.

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The Nikkei 225 in Japan gained 0.66% to close at 26,781.68 as shares of conglomerate SoftBank Group surged 3.43%. The Topix index advanced 0.52% to 1,887.30. South Korea’s Kospi also finished the trading day 0.98% higher at 2,638.05.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.08% on the day to 7,182.70. Australia’s retail sales rose 0.9% in April to “another record level,” according to a Friday media release from the country’s Bureau of Statistics.

Following the data release, the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7144, continuing to hold above the $0.705 level that it momentarily fell below earlier in the week.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped 2.05%.

Currencies and oil

The US dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 101.733 — off levels above 102.2 seen earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 127.05 per dollar, still stronger than levels above 127.8 seen against the greenback earlier this week.

Oil prices were higher in the afternoon of Asia trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures rising 0.23% to $117.67 per barrel. US crude futures climbed 0.1% to $114.20 per barrel.

— CNBC’s Samantha Subin contributed to this report.

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