Asian stocks gain as Dow breaks record, Koreas agree to talk

SEOUL, South Korea — Asian stock markets rose Friday after the Dow Jones industrial average finished above 25,000 for the first time. An agreement by North and South Korea to hold talks also lifted sentiment. Investors were looking ahead to a U.S. jobs reports.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent to 23,714.53 and South Korea’s Kospi jumped 1.3 percent to 2,497.52. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was nearly unchanged at 30,742.57 while the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.2 percent to 3,391.75. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.7 percent to 6,122.30. In Southeast Asia, stocks were mostly higher.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “Global growth is currently the dominant theme for equity markets,” Rick Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a daily commentary. “If the latest U.S. employment data beats expectations, it could validate this theme and lend weight to the stock market rally.”

U.S. JOBS: The U.S. government is due to release its December jobs report later in the day. Analysts forecast that American employers added 195,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. Earlier Thursday, a report showed private U.S. businesses added 250,000 jobs last month, with smaller businesses adding 94,000.

KOREAS: On Friday, the rival Koreas agreed to hold their first official dialogue in more than two years next week to discuss ways to cooperate on the upcoming Winter Olympics in the South. Earlier, the United States and South Korea agreed to delay annual joint military exercises until after the Games, being held in Pyeongchang from Feb. 9-25.

WALL STREET: U.S. stock markets finished higher on Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.6 percent to finish at 25,075.13. The Standard & Poor’s 500 gained 0.4 percent to 2,723.99. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 0.2 percent to 7,077.91.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 25 cents to $61.76 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 38 cents to close at $62.01 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 23 cents to $67.84 per barrel in London. On Thursday, it rose 23 cents to $68.07 a barrel.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.09 yen from 112.76 yen. The euro fell to $1.2063 from $1.2068. (AP)