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Asia: Most markets up, Tokyo lifted by weak yen

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[HONG KONG] Most Asian markets rose again Friday following another positive lead from Wall Street, with Tokyo boosted by a plunging yen, although traders remain nervous about the outlook for global trade with Donald Trump in the White House.

After one of the best weeks in January, however, gains were tempered with investors taking a breather as they keep an eye on developments in Washington where Trump is pushing on with his "America first" agenda.

Markets surged in the two months after his November election win on hopes his plans for big infrastructure spending, tax cuts and slashing red tape would fan the world's biggest economy and, in turn, global growth.

The new year saw a retreat as his failure to provide any detail of his economic plans led to worries about his determination to follow through with his campaign promises.

But his decision to give the go-ahead to controversial oil pipelines across the US lifted spirits on trading floors earlier in the week as it was taken as a sign the tycoon will deliver.

In New York the Dow broke 20,000 for the first time and on Thursday extended those gains. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are also sitting around record highs.

Asian markets have followed suit, rallying for most of this week.

On Friday, Tokyo rose 0.4 per cent by the break as the dollar held Thursday's rally against the yen. There was also some lift on news that Japanese consumer prices fell in December but at a slower pace than the previous month.

Sydney added 0.6 per cent, Singapore 0.3 per cent and Manila also put on 0.3 per cent.

Activity was thin across markets heading into the Lunar New Year break, while Shanghai and Seoul were already closed.

"Donald Trump is getting down to business and the stock market seems to like that," Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at FX and CFD provider AxiTrader, said in a note.

"For now we are getting an extension of the Trumponomics rally in stocks. Traders and investors seem to have a renewed focus on the reality that for all his belligerence President Trump does seem likely to institute his key tax and economic plans."

There remain worries, however, about Mr Trump's protectionist slant and on Thursday those tensions increased after Mexico's president scrapped a planned visit to the US over the billionaire's plans to build a border wall and make the country pay for it.

The escalating row also comes after Mr Trump said he wanted to review a decades-old trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, one of many deals he promised to reopen.


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