Most Asian stock markets ended the week higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said the outlook for the U.S. economy is improving.
Japanese exporters such as Honda Motors and office equipment maker Canon ended higher Friday on optimism about the future of the U.S. economy. The Nikkei Average rose three quarters of a percent to 10,144.
But news that Japanese consumer prices have fallen for a record three years in a row weighed on Japanese stocks. Ito-Yokado, Japan's largest retailer, saw a sharp decline in its share price, as did Seven-Eleven Japan, the country's largest convenience store chain.
Heizo Takenaka, Japanese State Minister for the Economy, confirms Friday that Japan is experiencing deflation. He also says he is "determined that the government will come up with concrete measures to fight the trend."
Comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan that the U.S. economy is stabilizing also pushed other Asian markets higher. Korea's Kospi index advanced more than two percent, with the country's largest exporter, Samsung Electronics, soaring four percent.
In Taiwan, blue chips rose 2.5 percent to 5,950, encouraged partly by signs of a new warming in Taipei's relationship with China. Computer-chip maker United Microelectronics ended 1.5 percent higher on news it plans to open on a new plant in China.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng ended slightly higher. China Mobile, mainland China's top cellular phone operator and the territory's second biggest stock, lost ground. Investors say they are concerned about dropping subscriber growth and rising competition.