By Mia Lamar
Asian stock markets edged higher Friday after Wall Street shook off a losing streak, although Japan lagged in the red as a weak inflation reading kept buyers at bay.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was a standout, closing 0.2% up to set a new five-year high. Signs of economic stabilization in China -- Australia's largest trading partner -- have spurred a strong quarter for the Australian market, one of the Asia's best performers with a 10.5% increase so far.
Stocks in the U.S. rose overnight as investors set aside concerns over budget and debt-ceiling wrangling in Washington, sending the S&P 500 (SPX) up 0.3% for its first positive close in six sessions.
"Investors appear to be prepared to ride through the noise of political brinkmanship at this stage," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney.
Energy firms advanced in Sydney. Senex Energy Ltd. rose 2.7% after Australian investment bank Macquarie Group Ltd. put a bullish rating on the stock. Santos Ltd. gained 1.5%.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea's Kospi rose 0.2%, Taiwan's Taiex added 0.6% and Singapore's Straits Times Index gained 0.5%.
Stocks in Hong Kong ended in positive territory following Wall Street's gains, though trading was subdued ahead of China's Golden Week holiday. The benchmark Hang Seng Index closed 0.4% higher while China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.2%.
Japanese shares fell 0.3% as a weak inflation reading weighed on investor sentiment. Core consumer prices rose 0.8% nationwide in August, slightly stronger than economists had predicted, although prices in the capital city of Tokyo recorded a weaker-than-expected increase.
"The Bank of Japan has been publicizing this apparent inflation, but we'll see that is not necessarily what is happening," said Yuichi Kodama, chief economist at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance.
A firmer yen also hurt shares of major Japanese exporters. The U.S. dollar (USDJPY) traded at Yen98.53 against the Japanese currency, compared with Yen99.02 late Thursday in New York.
Shares of major Japanese exporters were lower with Kyocera down 2.6% and Suzuki Motor Corp. off 1.8%.