(Updates with India close, latest available prices)
By Chris Oliver, Rosalind Mathieson and Philip Vahn
SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--Asian share markets ended mostly higher Friday, led by gains in commodities and a rally in Australian mining stocks after Rio Tinto announced a capital raising and unveiled a joint venture with BHP Billiton.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 ended 0.9% higher, Japan's Nikkei 225 added 1%, and South Korea's Kospi Composite struggled through a choppy session to end 1.2% higher.
"It is looking a lot brighter today," said Hamilton Hindin Greene broker Adrian Vance.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 1%, New Zealand shares were up 0.7%, and Singapore's Straits Times Index added 1.4%. The Shanghai Composite retreated 0.5% and Taiwan's main index nudged lower 0.3%. India's benchmark index gained 0.6%.
"The market has held up pretty well even though there has been pressure for profit taking," said RBC Investment Management Asia's head of Asia Equities Yoji Takeda. "It shows resilience and better sentiment among investors, domestic and foreign."
Rio Tinto shares jumped more than 8% after the miner abandoned its $19.5 billion deal with Chinalco, announced plans for a $15.2 billion rights issue and unveiled a joint venture with BHP Billiton. BHP's shares were up more than 8%.
Shares in Chinalco's subsidiary Chalco were down 2.1% in Hong Kong after its parent's deal with Rio collapsed.
Citigroup advised investors to sell the shares saying that the collapse of the deal may hurt sentiment, although it didn't fundamentally change Chalco's operations.
In Sydney, Fortescue Metals shot up 13.6% on news it had entered into a joint venture with BC Iron to jointly develop the Nullagine iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Caltex Australia was up 3.8% and Woodside Petroleum ended 1.2% lower. Japan's Inpex was up 4.8%, with Nippon Mining adding 0.5% and Japan Petroleum Exploration up 7.6%. In Hong Kong, Jiangxi Copper was up 1.5% while Cnooc tacked on 4.7%.
Some analysts questioned how much further the bull market in Asian stocks would run.
"If Asian stocks rise much further they will, frankly, be getting into bubble territory; we think markets need to move sideways for a couple of quarters to allow fundamentals to catch up," said HSBC Strategist Garry Evans in Singapore.
The Baltic Dry Index - a measure of the demand for shipping - fell 4.6% Thursday, after a recent run of gains.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for May which is due out later in the trading day is expected to show the U.S. economy lost another half-million jobs last month. A Dow Jones Newswires poll forecast a fall of 525,000 jobs, after a 539,000 drop in April, with the jobless rate tipped to rise to 9.2%.
HSBC shares ended 2% lower in Hong Kong. From Monday, HSBC's shares will be given a 15% weighting in the Hang Seng Index, instead of the current 20%.
Shares of Canon Inc ended 4.2% higher in Tokyo. The company said Friday it plans to proceed with construction of a new digital camera factory in southern Japan after imposing a six-month delay, a sign that capital spending may be recovering as companies prepare for a rebound in orders.
RBC's Mr. Takeda said Japan's blue-chip exporters, which have lagged the market in recent weeks, could pick up as attention shifts back to the recovery in global demand.
The U.S. dollar was little changed against the yen at Y96.73 Y96.80 in New York.
"This is normally not the best session to be putting on a big trade unless you somehow think you've got a better idea on payrolls than the hundreds of economists who try to forecast it," said Westpac Senior Currency Strategist Sean Callow.
Spot gold slipped $2.60 from New York levels, to $977.80 an ounce.
July Nymex crude oil futures were up 27 cents at $69.08 a barrel on Globex, after rising $2.67 in New York.
"The oil market is moving toward a transition period of very gradually improving demand, falling inventories, and prices closer to the desired range of key producers, which we would place in the $75 to $85 region," said Barclays Capital.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 05, 2009 08:10 ET (12:10 GMT)
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