Nikkei leads Asian market gains as yen drops

Global equities continued to build on their recent gains early Monday, after late week strength for U.S. equity markets.

Asian indexes were higher to start the week after a rally on Wall Street Friday with Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average leading. The Nikkei

NIK, +0.82%

  was up 1% amid a modest drop for the yen from Friday’s Asian levels.

Export and drug stocks were among the early gainers with the sectors about 2% higher.

Most other Asia Pacific indexes were up about 0.5%.

Investor sentiment was helped by the Federal Reserve’s semiannual monetary-policy report to Congress released Friday, said Vishnu Varathan, a senior economist at Mizuho Bank in Singapore.

The report signaled that the Fed wasn’t worried about the volatility in financial markets earlier this month and remained on track to gradually raise interest rates.

This indicated to investors that the “game plan hasn’t changed substantially,” said Varathan.

Still, with February nearly over stock markets are still poised to log one of their worst months in some time. Benchmarks in Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, India and South Korea all entered Monday’s trading down about 5% for the month.

Other asset classes were generally little changed Monday, with slight movement in Treasury yields, the dollar and commodities. Bitcoin prices

BTCUSD, +1.41%

  remained slightly below $10,000, according to CoinDesk.

S&P 500 futures

ESH8, -0.05%

  were down 0.1%.

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