Asian shares advance, tracking Wall Street's rally

Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 edged up by 0.25 percent amid broad-based gains, although the heavily weighted financials sector traded lower by 0.29 percent.

Markets in Malaysia remained closed on Friday for a special holiday following the landmark general election win by Mahathir Mohamad’s opposition alliance. Mahathir, who was prime minister of Malaysia between 1981 and 2003, was sworn in as the prime minister late on Thursday.

The iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF, which had initially dropped more than 6 percent in reaction to the surprise election outcome, regained 1.76 percent on Thursday.

MSCI’s broad index of shares in Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, was up 0.31 percent.

Overall gains in the region came on the back of Wall Street’s sharp gains in the last session, which also saw the Dow close positive for 2018. The overnight advance stateside followed the release of weaker-than-expected U.S. inflation data in the last session.

The consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in April, compared to the 0.3 percent rise forecast in a Reuters poll. The lighter-than-forecast number eased concerns about the Federal Reserve tightening monetary policy at a faster rate than the market is expecting.

Geopolitics remained a focus in commodities markets, with oil prices steady during Asia morning trade. Oil had settled slightly higher in the last session amid investor concerns over the impact of renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran oil exports. President Donald Trump had announced the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this week.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said Brent crude prices could rise as high as $100 per barrel on the back of factors including geopolitics.

On Thursday, U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures added 0.18 percent to trade at $71.49 per barrel and Brent crude futures was up 0.05 percent at $77.51.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was softer following the release of U.S. inflation data on Thursday. The index traded at 92.720 at 8:03 a.m. HK/SIN after touching as high as 93.42 earlier this week. Against the yen, the dollar traded at 109.51.

On the earnings front, results are expected from Samsung Life Insurance, NTT, and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust.

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