A frothy IPO on Wall Street by social networking site LinkedIn helped lift Asian shares on Friday despite mixed signals about the U.S. economy’s health.
The Nikkei 225 index was 0.3 per cent higher at 9,648.84 with Japan’s central bank keeping its key interest rate unchanged at virtually zero in a bid to shore up the economy as it hobbles back to pre-earthquake levels of activity. The country’s northeastern coast was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, which washed away some 500 factories that produce key parts for Japan’s manufacturing industries.
South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.6 per cent to 2,107.15. Benchmarks in Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand were higher, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.5 per cent to 4,734.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat at 23,155.75, although Internet shares rose on the heels of the successful initial public offering by LinkedIn, which evoked memories of the dot-com boom and bust by soaring 109 per cent on the first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The debut of LinkedIn, an online networking service for professionals, is seen as a scene setter for other social networking sites that are expected to list during the next year. The candidates include the online messaging service Twitter, game maker Zynga, and the biggest social network of all, Facebook.
Hong Kong-listed Alibaba.com, a leading e-commerce site in China that went public last year, rose 1.2 per cent. Tencent Holdings Ltd. rose 0.8 per cent.
Oil prices stayed below $100 a barrel amid lacklustre U.S. economic news and a warning by the International Energy Agency that petroleum prices threaten to stall the global economic recovery. The agency warned that there’s “urgent need” for refineries to produce more gasoline.