SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Asian stock markets bounced back on Friday, as U.S. consumer price data helped calm investor sentiment, one day after Bank of Japan’s decision not to add stimulus measures sparked heavy losses. Investors stayed focused on the next week’s referendum on whether Britain would stay in the European Union.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.5 percent to 15,659.98 and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.2 percent to 1,955.02. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.8 percent to 20,188.27 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.2 percent to 5,157.00. Stocks in mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and Southeast Asian countries were also higher.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “To be sure, U.S. Consumer Price Index data continued to underscore the steady price growth,” said Bernard Aw, a market strategist at IG in Singapore. “This may have taken the edge off investors.” But he said the gains are unlikely to be a sign of a full comeback of investor appetite for risks. “I won’t place too much faith in the slight turnaround in risk sentiments, especially when the big scary event (Brexit) looms next week,” he said referring to the upcoming vote on whether Britain would remain a member of the European Union.
US DATA: U.S. consumer prices rose a moderate amount in May, driven up by rising energy costs and the biggest increase in shelter costs in more than nine years. The Commerce Department reported Thursday said consumer prices increased 0.2 percent last month following a 0.4 percent increase in April. The data was a slight relief to investors as the report was released after the Federal Reserve said it was still concerned about low inflation.
BRITAIN WATCH: The odds of Britain leaving the European Union increased in recent weeks with analysts expecting a tight race in the British vote on June 23. The Bank of England said on Thursday that a vote to leave the union would likely result in a sharp drop in the pound. It would also hurt spending and investment.
WALL STREET: Stocks in the U.S. staged a late afternoon rally to close moderately higher on Thursday, ending a five-day losing streak. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.5 percent to 17,733.10. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.3 percent to 2,077.99 and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.2 percent to 4,844.91.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil added 33 cents at $46.54 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract sank $1.80 to close at $46.21 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 52 cents to $47.71 a barrel in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 104.19 yen from 104.49 yen while the euro gained to $1.126 from $1.124.