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Asia: Markets rise on Federal Reserve pick and Apple suppliers

[HONG KONG] Asian shares mostly rose on Friday, as investors tracked Wall Street after a new Federal Reserve chair was appointed and Apple suppliers benefited from the company's strong earnings report.

The Dow finished at a fresh record after President Donald Trump nominated Jerome Powell to lead the Fed, viewed as a non-controversial choice unlikely to radically change the gradual tightening monetary policies that stock markets like.

Congressional Republicans also unveiled their long-awaited tax cut plan, which would dramatically slash corporate rates, and was touted by Trump and allies as crucial to speed economic growth.

Apple reported its profit climbed 19 per cent to US$10.7 billion, as iPhone sales grew in a stronger-than-expected update for the past quarter.

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The earnings figures came as Apple released its 10th anniversary iPhone X in more than 50 countries and territories including in many Asian markets, with Apple chief executive Tim Cook reporting "very strong" orders.

Various Apple suppliers in Asia saw their share price rise, including Taiwan's Hon Hai - better known as Foxconn - as well as Hong Kong-listed Cowell E Holdings and Sunny Optical Technology, and Shanghai's Zhejiang Quartz Crystal Optoelectronic Technology.

Hong Kong shares rose 0.3 per cent, and Taiwan 0.1 per cent, but Shanghai shares lost 0.3 per cent in morning trading.

Meanwhile, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said soaring sales fuelled a 132 per cent increase in net profit in what it called an "outstanding" quarter, as the firm raised its expectations for full-year revenue growth.

Investor optimism for the future has been a key ingredient in the rally, with Alibaba raising expectations as it continues to adapt to, and profit from, the Chinese e-commerce boom that it helped to ignite.

Hong Kong-listed Tencent, a fellow Chinese e-commerce giant, saw shares rise in Hong Kong Friday.

Sydney's index rose 0.6 per cent, buoyed by healthy returns on mining as commodities metals rose, and also a falling Australian dollar after figures showed the weakest quarter for domestic retail sales in seven years.

Japanese markets were closed for a public holiday.

Investors on Friday awaited the release of a key US jobs report giving non-farm payroll figures.

It comes after Mr Trump said former investment banker Powell has the wisdom and intelligence to guide the world's largest economy.

Analysts say choosing Mr Powell allows Mr Trump to put his own imprimatur on the central bank with a minimum of disruption.

"Meet the new boss, mostly the same as the old boss," said a note from Barclays.