Investor confidence returns to Asian markets

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Asian stock markets were mostly higher as worries surrounding the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey eased.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed up 0.5% at 19,944.41.

Shares in car making giant Toyota rose 1.1% despite the firm saying on Wednesday it was recalling another 1.6 million vehicles equipped with faulty air bags.

The Japanese car maker has recalled nearly 15 million vehicles fitted with the bags since 2013.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended flat at 22,488.94, while China's Shanghai Composite index fell 0.3% to 3,635.55.

Trading in the mainland market has become choppier ahead of a series of initial public offerings that will begin next week, analysts said.

South Korea's Kospi index closed up 1.06% at 2,030.68.

Australian banks

Sydney's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 was up more than 1% in morning trade, helped by banking shares, but eventually closed 0.3% higher at 5,210.70.

Analysts said that while other markets were trading sideways, money was rotating back into the country's banks as investors looked for income.

"The big four banks are flying today," IG market strategist Chris Weston told the BBC.

Shares in Commonwealth Bank of Australia - the country's biggest lender - closed up 1.5%.

Westpac finished the trading day up 1.2%, while National Australia Bank and ANZ closed up about 0.4%.

"When there's sideways trading in many global markets - traders want to be paid to be in a position and so we tend to see moves into the banks for yield," Mr Weston said.

"There are some risks because of the housing market, which is starting to show some vulnerability, but at the moment, bank shares are the best way to pick up yield."

The so-called big four lenders make up some 30% of Australia's stock market and are regarded as highly profitable. They came through the financial crisis relatively unscathed.

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