HONG KONG, May 29: Japan's Nikkei chalked up an eleventh straight gain today as the yen sat around 12-year lows against the dollar, while Shanghai extended losses following the previous day's hefty plunge.
The euro continues to face downside pressure over concerns that Greece and its creditors will not reach an agreement on reforming its bailout, with the head of the IMF warning the crisis could end with the country leaving the eurozone.
Tokyo pared most of its early losses but ended marginally higher, adding 11.69 points to end at 20,563.15 -- the index is now enjoying its best rally since February 1988 at the height of Japan's stock market bubble.
Sydney jumped 1.12 per cent, or 64.10 points, to 5,777.20 and Seoul added 0.19 per cent, or 3.91 points, to 2,114.80.
Hong Kong shares ended 0.11 per cent lower on Friday while Shanghai also finished a volatile session slightly down, following a painful sell-off in the previous session.The benchmark Hang Seng Index lost 30.12 points to close at 27,424.19 on turnover of HK$204.77 billion (US$26.42 billion).
In mainland China the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index, which plunged 6.50 per cent Thursday, ended 0.18 per cent, or 8.53 points, lower at 4,611.74 on turnover of 955.4 billion yuan ($156.1 billion). In a day of rollercoaster trading, the index swung from a 4.08 per cent loss and a 1.69 per cent gain.
But the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, rose 1.32 per cent, or 36.32 points, to 2,793.25 on turnover of 900.7 billion yuan.
Wall Street's three main markets ended lower Thursday, spooked by worries about Greece's long-running debt talks as well as China's heavy sell-off.
The Dow dipped 0.20 per cent, the S&P 500 shed 0.12 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.17 per cent.
However, Japanese traders brushed off the negative lead, with exporters pushed higher by the continuing weakness of the yen.
The Japanese currency has fallen about 3.5 per cent against the dollar this month as the US Federal Reserve prepares to hike interest rates at some point this year, while the Bank of Japan considers loosening monetary policy further.
The dollar was at 123.93 yen after touching 124.46 yen at one point in New York, the highest level since December 2002. However, it is still up from 123.70 yen in late Tokyo trade Thursday.
"The fact that the Fed has shown an intention to raise rates within the year has been behind the weakening of the yen," Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.
Data out of Japan Friday added to selling pressure on the yen. Official figures showed household spending fell for a 13th consecutive month, confounding expectations for a rise, while core inflation came in at a lacklustre 0.3 per cent.
The euro stood its ground in Tokyo trade, buying $1.0940 and 135.58 yen from $1.0947 and 135.70 yen in US trade.
However, investors are nervously watching events in Europe as Greece approaches a June 5 deadline to repay part of its debts, with no deal in sight on restructuring its bailout. Athens must find a compromise with its creditors that will unlock billions of dollars in cash to help it pay its bills.
The issue dominated a meeting of Group of Seven finance ministers in Dresden Thursday, where International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said there was "a potential" for Greece to exit the eurozone.
While she told the daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that such a scenario would "probably not be an end to the euro", she added that it would not be "a walk in the park" for the bloc.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery rose 55 cents to $58.23 while Brent crude for July gained 45 cents to $63.03.
Gold fetched $1,188.15 compared with $1,187.32 late Thursday.
In other markets:
Wellington rose 1.17 per cent, or 67.31 points, to 5,844.95.
Fletcher Building was up 1.15 per cent at NZ$8.76 and Air New Zealand gained 0.17 per cent to NZ$2.99.
Taipei lost 0.12 per cent, or 11.77 points, to close at 9,701.07.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.68 per cent lower at Tw$146.0 while Fubon Financial Holding fell 1.25 per cent to Tw$63.2.