Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Global Cues

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Friday, following the firmly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders reacted to upbeat earnings news and better-than-expected labor data from the U.S., with the spike in crude oil prices also providing support. The upside is limited as traders remain concerned about the coronavirus situation in the region, which is hindering economic activity. Asian markets ended mostly higher on Thursday.

Traders continued to bet on hopes about a steady global economic recovery from the pandemic. The Labor Department said that first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits dropped below 300,000 for the first time in well over a year last week. With the bigger than expected decrease, jobless claims dropped to their lowest level since hitting 256,000 in the week ended March 14, 2020.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden also signed legislation to temporarily raise the government’s debt limit to $28.9 trillion, pushing back the deadline for debt default to December from mid-October.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Friday, extending the modest gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,300 level, following the firmly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, led by energy, technology and mining stocks amid rising crude oil and metal prices. The upside is limited as the country struggles to contain the domestic coronavirus situation, primarily in Victoria.

Victoria reported 2,179 new locally acquired cases and six deaths on Thursday, with active cases now totalling 21,324 across the state. NSW has reported 399 new local cases of COVID-19 and four deaths.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 34.80 points or 0.48 percent to 7,346.50, after touching a high of 7,373.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 37.80 points or 0.50 percent to 7,658.00. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is gaining more than 2 percent, Mineral Resources is rising almost 2 percent, Fortescue Metals is higher by almost 1 percent and OZ Minerals is adding almost 4 percent. Rio Tinto losing more than 1 percent after it downgraded its full year iron ore shipment targets.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Woodside Petroleum is gaining almost 1 percent, Origin Energy is edging up 0.2 percent and Beach energy is adding more than 1 percent. Oil Search is edging down 0.1 percent. Santos is flat. Among tech stocks, Xero, WiseTech Global and Afterpay are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Appen is adding almost 3 percent. Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking is edging up 0.4 percent and Westpac is edging up 0.1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is edging down 0.2 percent. National Australia Bank is flat.

Gold miners are mixed. Gold Road Resources is losing almost 2 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging down 0.3 percent, while Resolute Mining, Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are flat. Shares in IAG are shedding more than 3 percent after it has being sued by the regulator for failing to pass on $60 million worth of discounts to NRMA home, motor, caravan and boat insurance customers.

Shares in Treasury Wine Estates are declining more than 5 percent after the winemaker warned investors that it is running behind expectations as lockdowns and soaring case numbers continue to hinder sales.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.742 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading significantly higher on Friday, extending the sharp gains in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 adding nearly 400 points to be just above the 28,900 level, following the firmly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, on higher crude oil prices and strength in technology stocks, mirroring their peers on Nasdaq.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,920.14, up 369.21 points or 1.29 percent, after touching a high of 28,953.04 earlier. Japanese shares closed sharply higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is flat and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging up 0.5 percent, while Toyota is edging down 0.2 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is gaining more than 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings are adding almost 2 percent each. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining almost 1 percent, while Mizuho Financial is flat. Among major exporters, Panasonic and Canon are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are adding more than 1 percent each. Among the other major gainers, Fanuc and Sumco are gaining more than 4 percent each, while Amada and Japan Steel Works are up almost 4 percent. Omron, Dowa Holdings and Ebara are adding more than 3 percent each, while Yaskawa Electric, OKUMA, Mitsubishi Materials, Toho, Unitika and Alps Alpine are rising almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Takashimaya is losing almost 5 percent and Nippon Suisan Kaisha is down almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 113 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, China, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent. New Zealand and Taiwan are bucking the trend and are down 0.3 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session on Thursday, adding to the gains posted on Wednesday. With the strong upward move, the Dow ended the session at its best closing level in over a month.

The major averages ended the session just off their best levels of the day. The Dow jumped 534.75 points or 1.6 percent to 34,912.56, the Nasdaq surged 251.79 points or 1.7 percent to 14,832.43 and the S&P 500 shot up 74.46 points or 1.7 percent to 4,438.26.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.3 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher Thursday as the International Energy Agency (IEA) lifted its global oil demand forecast. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for November rose $0.87 or 1.1 percent at $81.31 a barrel, the highest level since October 2014.

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