Asian stocks gain as South Korean won rises on Park impeachment

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Asian markets were broadly positive on Friday as South Korea’s president was formally impeached and treasuries remained under pressure ahead of the US employment report anticipated to fuel expectations for the Federal Reserve will raise to rates at its meeting next week.

The Korean won was 0.2 per cent stronger against the dollar at Won1155.64 after South Korea’s Park Geun-hye was stripped of her presidency and formally ousted following a corruption scandal.

In an unanimous decision, magistrates upheld the legality of an earlier impeachment vote by the nation’s legislature, making Ms Park the first South Korean leader to be thrown from office.

Japan’s Topix index rose 1 per cent with gains across the board while the Nikkei 225 was up 1.3 per cent. Australia’s S&P/ASX/200 was up 0.6 per cent as financial stocks and the consumer staples sector gained.

The Hang Seng Index was up 0.1 per cent as cable television network I-Cable Communications tumbled as much as 46 per cent after its parent company Wharf Holdings said it had scrapped plans to sell the loss making operator. Property developer Wharf’s stock jumped 8 per cent on the news leading a 1.2 per cent gain in the real estate sector.

International benchmark Brent Crude was up 0.9 percent at $52.65 a barrel during Asia trading after falling for a second consecutive day on concerns over data showing record US stockpiles. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate struggled to recover after settling on Thursday below $50 a barrel for the first time since December, with the benchmark trading up 1 per cent at $49.78 a barrel. Figures released on Wednesday showed US stockpiles rose by 8.2m barrels.

The Euro continued its rise on mildly hawkish remarks from European Central bank president Mario Draghi on Wednesday, gaining 0.1 per cent to $1.0587.

The dollar index tracking the currency against a basket of peers was up 0.1 per cent to 101.960 while the yen weakened by 0.2 per cent against the dollar to ¥115.17.

The Australian dollar was up 0.2 per cent at $0.7523 following the release of data showing growth in Australian home loans accelerated in February as lending for property investment rebounded.

The yield on 10-year US Treasuries was up 1 basis point at 2.614 per cent after gaining 5 basis points on Thursday. Australian 10-year bond yields rose 4 basis points to 2.966 per cent.

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