Asia markets mostly higher on a strong US finish, markets focused on France – CNBC

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A passerby walks in front of a stock indicator at the window of a security company in Tokyo on March 31, 2017.

Asia markets were mostly higher on Friday after a strong session in the U.S. amid caution following a suspected terrorist shooting in Paris ahead of the first round of the presidential election at the weekend.

One policeman was killed and two were injured after a gunman opened fire in central Paris on Thursday night.

The shooting took place just before voters head to the polls in a tightly contested presidential race, with centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right candidate Marine Le Pen leading the pack ahead of the first round of voting with none of the candidates expected to command the 50 percent needed to win outright, leading to a second round runoff on May 7.

Either way, the result of the election is unlikely to result in France leaving the European Union, Mizuho Bank Senior Economist Vishnu Varathan said in a Friday morning note.

“A Le Pen victory this round is quite far removed from ‘Frexit’ risks … (E)ven if Le Pen makes president, establishing supporters among lawmakers to even get a ‘Frexit’ referendum off the ground is a long way off. Simply put, ‘Frexit’ is not an imminent risk in any case.”

Euro/dollar last traded at $1.0717, higher than the $1.06 levels seen earlier this week. It had earlier climbed to a one-month high of $1.0777.

One analyst, however, said that investors should not associate resilience in the currency with changing sentiment.

“With political uncertainty still a recurrent theme in Europe, the incredible rebound that the euro has staged may be utilized by longer-term bears to send prices lower,” FXTM Research Analyst Lukman Otunuga said in a note.

Investors were also focused on fresh comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that tax reform plans could be unveiled soon.

Markets in Asia were relatively unfazed by the headlines in Europe and traded higher across the board, with Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index up 0.75 percent. The Kospi surged 0.81 percent higher and Australia’s ASX 200 made gains of 0.58 percent.

The mood in greater China was mixed, with the Hang Seng Index higher by 0.5 percent but mainland Chinese markets trading lower. The Shanghai Composite was off by 0.14 percent while the Shenzhen Composite inched down by 0.065 percent.

“Political risk is very much at the forefront but … financial markets continue to shrug it off. The volatility levels are so low, even if they expected higher volatility given a lot of these geopolitical risks,” Taurus Wealth Advisors’ Executive Director Michael Preiss told CNBC.

“On the economic front, the good news is that certain economies are improving. The unfortunate or ironic thing is that this actually might not be good for stock markets as much as people want to believe,” he warned.

In corporate news, Western Digital is reportedly mulling a joint bid with Japanese government-backed players for Toshiba‘s prized semiconductor business, Reuters said. Western Digital is the U.S. partner of Toshiba’s chip business. Shares of the embattled Japanese conglomerate were down 4.09 percent.

Still in the tech space, shares of Samsung Electronics were higher by 2.43 percent ahead of the release of its new Galaxy S8 smartphone Friday in the U.S. and South Korea. The company said last week that pre-orders for the Galaxy S8 had surpassed those for the S7.

The dollar traded at 99.803 against a basket of rivals, higher than levels around 99.6 seen in the previous session. The greenback made a second consecutive session of gains against the yen, trading at 109.21 compared to the 108 handle in the last session. Cable held mostly steady, with the pound/dollar trading at 1.2801 at 9:20 am HK/SIN.

Oil prices were cautiously higher as markets grappled with higher U.S. shale production and comments that OPEC output cuts were likely to be extended. U.S. crude was up by 0.12 percent at $50.77 a barrel. Brent crude was gained 0.09 percent to trade at $53.04.

On the economic front, Hong Kong reports inflation and unemployment data at 4:30pm HK/SIN.

U.S. equities closed higher on Mnuchin’s tax reform comments, with the Dow Jones industrial average bouncing 0.85 percent or 174.22 points to close at 20,578.71 and the S&P 500 rising 0.76 percent or 17.67 points to close at 2,355.84.

Asia markets mostly higher on a strong US finish, markets focused on France – CNBC}