Asia shares mostly higher, Nikkei up 0.7%, Shanghai up 0.6% – CNBC

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Asia markets closed mostly higher Friday as a weaker yen provided support for Japan’s shares amid persistent concerns over a potential Federal Reserve rate hike in April.

But volume was lower than usual throughout the trading day as many major markets were shut for the Good Friday holiday.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 finished up 110.42 points, or 0.65 percent, at 17,002.75; for the week, the index was up 1.66 percent. The Japanese yen retreated to the 113 handle against the dollar, with the dollar/yen pair trading at 113.14 as of 1:22 p.m. HK/SIN time, up from as low as 112.43 on Thursday.

However as of 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN time, after the Japanese market close, the dollar/yen pair gave up some gains, trading at 112.92.

The dollar has been edging higher on the idea that the Fed could give serious consideration to a rate hike at its April meeting. Pushing that thinking – and the dollar – is the Fed itself, with a handful of officials saying in the past week that a rate hike could be coming soon. That was despite the Fed issuing a fairly dovish sounding policy statement after its March meeting.

Major exporters in Japan closed mostly up, with shares of Toyota higher by 2.81 percent, Nissan adding 2.64 percent and Honda up by 2.83 percent. Usually a weaker yen is a positive for exporters as it increases their overseas profits when converted into local currency.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi finished lower by 2.16 points, or 0.11 percent, at 1,983.81.

Chinese markets were up, with the Shanghai composite higher by 18.15 points, or 0.61 percent, at 2,979.12, and the Shenzhen composite added 9.07 points, or 0.48 percent, to 1,885.17.

Markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Indonesia, New Zealand and the Philippines were closed for the holiday.

Before market open, Japan released data that showed inflation was flat. Reuters reported nationwide February core consumer price index (CPI) was flat on year, against the market’s forecast for a 0.1 percent increase.

Tokyo’s March core CPI, considered a leading indicator of nationwide prices, was down 0.3 percent on year, compared with a forecast for a 0.2 percent drop, said Reuters. This will likely pressure the Bank of Japan, which cut interest rates earlier this year into negative territory to boost inflation toward its target of 2 percent.

Oil prices were lower overnight, with U.S. crude futures settling down 33 cents at $39.46 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent was off a tad at $40.44.

Asia shares mostly higher, Nikkei up 0.7%, Shanghai up 0.6% – CNBC}