Asian stock prices mostly rose in light trading today after a turbulent week. Trading was light, however, as most markets worldwide were...

Share story

BANGKOK, Thailand — Asian stock prices mostly rose in light trading today after a turbulent week. Trading was light, however, as most markets worldwide were closed for Good Friday.

Japan’s key stock market index rose 1.8 percent, while South Korean shares extended their winning streak into a fourth session as its key market indicator gained 1.4 percent. Prices edged up in Thailand and Malaysia, while stocks were mixed in China as a benchmark indicator slipped.

Trading was subdued because many financial markets including that in the United States were closed ahead of the Easter holiday on Sunday.

It was a quiet end to a week that began with global markets plunging on news that JPMorgan Chase would buy troubled U.S. investment bank Bear Stearns, which had been battered by the subprime mortgage crisis.

Asian markets rebounded Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut rates by a hefty three-quarters percentage point, sparking a huge rally on Wall Street.

Wall Street posted a big advance Thursday that left stocks higher for the week. The Dow Jones industrial average rose about 260 points on the day, giving the blue chips a gain of more than 3 percent for the week. Broader indexes finished the week with gains of 2 percent to 3 percent.

Japanese shares were buoyed earlier today by gains in property developers and financial issues. The Nikkei 225 index climbed 222.13 points, or 1.81 percent, to close at 12,482.57.

South Korean shares rose amid easing concerns about global inflation after commodities prices declined. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, added 22.30 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,645.69.

But worries linger about the outlook for the American economy and much of today’s gains in Tokyo were from short-term adjustments, traders said.

“Gains mainly seemed to be driven by short covering rather than real buying power, so it was otherwise very quiet trading in the market,” said Motomi Hiratsuka, head of sales trading at BNP Paribas in Tokyo.

Investors that sell “short” are betting that a stock or future contract will fall. Later, they have to buy the stock or contract to meet their obligation from the earlier sale, sometimes covering their gamble at a loss.

Sumitomo Realty & Development, Japan’s third-largest real estate developer by revenue, gained 6.9 percent. Mizuho Financial Group added 4.7 percent.

In South Korea, banking stocks generally ended higher with Kookmin Bank advancing 6.7 percent and smaller rival Shinhan Financial Group gaining 5.5 percent.

In Thailand, the key index rose 0.7 percent, while Malaysia’s market inched up 0.2 percent.

Chinese stocks were mixed, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edging lower as market heavyweight PetroChina fell 4 percent, outweighing gains in steel makers.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2 percent, or 7.47 points, to 3,796.58. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index rose 1.4 percent to 1,173.14.

“The Shanghai index was up over 2 percent at one point yesterday afternoon after plunging more than 6 percent in midmorning, a sign that institutional investors were already beginning to bargain hunt,” said Southwest Securities analyst Yan Li.

That suggests growing confidence that the market may be settling down after falling 38 percent since it hit a record high of 6,124.04 in mid-October, said Great Wall Securities analyst Dan Zhaoyang.

But oil and gas giant PetroChina fell 4 percent on fears the company is overvalued given that inflation-fighting controls on domestic fuel prices will hurt its earnings, analysts said.

Steel makers led gains, helped by news that China’s economic planner has approved plans by Wuhan Iron & Steel and Baoshan Iron & Steel, or Baosteel, to build new steel production bases.

Baosteel gained 5.7 percent, while Wuhan Iron & Steel rose 5.4 percent.

In currencies, the dollar was trading at 99.60 yen at midafternoon in Asia, down from 100.00 yen late Thursday in New York. The euro rose to $1.5444 from $1.5433.

Asian markets that were closed today included Hong Kong, Australia, India, Indonesia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Singapore. Markets in Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand will remain closed Monday.