Thu, Oct 14, 2021 11:58 PM
By ELAINE KURTENBACH, AP Business Writer
Asian shares were higher Friday after technology companies powered the biggest gain on Wall Street since March.
All major regional indexes advanced, with Tokyo gaining 1.4%.
Taiwan shares jumped 2.2% on news that computer chip maker TSMC upgraded its profit outlook.
TSMC, the world's biggest chip maker, climbed 4.4% after its CEO confirmed reports it plans to open a joint venture semiconductor fabrication plant in western Japan with Sony Corp.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added more than 400 points to 28,961.34 and the Hang Seng climbed 0.8% to 25,174.38. In Seoul, the Kospi advanced 0.8% to 3,014.87.
The Shanghai Composite index picked up 0.3% to 3,568.67 while the S&P/ASX 500 in Australia gained 0.4% to 7,340.70.
On Thursday, the S&P 500 jumped 1.7% to 4,438.26 as a wave of buying gained momentum from a day earlier, when the market broke a three-day losing streak.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.6% to 34,912.56 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 1.7% to 14,823.43.
Small company stocks also notched gains. The Russell 2000 index rose 1.4%, to 2,274.18.
More than 90% of stocks within the S&P 500 gained ground. Apple and Microsoft were among the big gainers in the technology sector, each rising more than 2%.
Financial and health care stocks also did well. JPMorgan Chase rose 1.5%. UnitedHealth Group rose 4.2% after the health insurer raised its profit forecast for the year following a strong third quarter.
The market's gains came as investors welcomed another batch of encouraging quarterly report cards from several companies. Every S&P 500 company that reported earnings so far this week has exceeded Wall Street's forecasts.
“It’s not surprising that the market has reacted pretty well to that," said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab.
Investors were also reviewing the latest data on jobs and inflation as they try to gauge the economy's health and path forward.
The Labor Department said the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level since the pandemic began. It's a positive sign for a job market that is still trying to recover from the initial hit from the pandemic 18 months ago. A surge of cases over the summer stunted the recovery.
Businesses are still facing pressure from rising costs. The Labor Department said inflation at the wholesale level rose 8.6% in September compared to a year ago, the largest advance since the 12-month change was first calculated in 2010.
The report came a day after the government said inflation at the consumer level rose 5.4% in September from a year ago, matching the highest rate since 2008.
The market largely took the inflation reports in stride, which suggests investors may be feeling more at ease since the Federal Reserve has signaled it may begin to taper the unprecedented financial support it has been giving the economy since the early days of the pandemic and eventually begin raising its benchmark interest rate in order to combat rising inflation.
Investors will get an update on how higher prices may be affecting consumer spending when the Commerce Department reports retail sales for September on Friday.
Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.52% from 1.55% late Wednesday.
In other trading on Friday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 44 cents to $81.75 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It surged 87 cents to $81.31 per barrel on Thursday.
Brent crude, the standard for international pricing, added 49 cents to $84.49 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar strengthened to 113.92 Japanese yen from 113.67 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1610 from $1.1596.
AP Business Writers Damian J. Troise and Alex Veiga contributed.