Asian markets are mostly trading notably higher on Monday with investors picking up stocks following a rate cut by the Chinese central bank and on easing worries about the eurozone economy amid hopes of a solution to Greece's debt woes. Though some of the markets are off their highs with a section of investors taking some profits, the mood remains fairly bullish in the region.
The Australian market is trading notably higher on Monday with investors indulging in some hectic buying almost across the board, following a rate cut by the Chinese central bank and on hopes of a solution to the financial crisis in Greece.
In the Australian market, mining, energy, industrial, consumer discretionary and healthcare stocks are mostly up in positive territory with strong gains. Financial, information technology and property trusts stocks are also trading firm.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to 4,253, is currently trading at 4,242.8, up 46.9 points or 1.1 percent over its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 45.9 points or 1.1 percent at 4,319.2, a few points off the day's high of 4,329.6.
Among key bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are up 1.5 to 2 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading nearly 2 percent down.
Top mining stocks BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are both trading stronger by over 2 percent. In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Oil Search are trading higher by 1.5 to 1.8 percent, while Santos is gaining more than 3 percent. Caltex Australia is up with a modest gain of 0.5 percent.
Lynas Corporation is up nearly 6 percent. Aquarius Platinum is trading higher by about 5.5 percent and CSR is up with a gain of 4.8 percent.
Paladin Energy, Campbell Brothers, Newcrest Mining, Fairfax Media, Boart Longyear and Boral are up 3 to 4 percent.
Amcor Ltd shares are up 3.3 percent after the company maintained its full-year guidance for its three main business divisions. Amcor reported a net profit of A$204.9 million for the six months to December 31, down 9.4 percent from A$226.1 million.
Atlas Iron, Myer Holdings, Fortescue Metals, News Corp., Downer EDI, Macquarie Group and Qantas Airways are up 2.5 to 3 percent.
BlueScope Steel Limited shares are down 3.4 percent after the company reported a loss of A$530 million for the first half ended December 31, after booking one-off restructuring and impairment costs.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is down 1.5 percent after the bank said its first half profit dropped 67 percent, with the result impacted by write-downs on intangible assets.
Challenger is trading lower by 3.6 percent. Telstra Corp., another prominent loser, is down by about 3.2 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0782 in early trades, up slightly from Friday's close of US$1.0777.
The Japanese stock market opened on a buoyant note with investors going on a buying spree in early trades following the yen's decline against the U.S. dollar and the euro as well.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 9,549.3, a near 7-month high, after opening nearly 120 points up at 9,502.8, was up 128.7 points or 1.4 percent when the morning session ended.
Financial, automobile, steel, non-ferrous metals, electric power and precision instruments were up with strong gains. Stocks from construction, services and retail sections exhibited a mixed trend.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, JFE Holdings, Kobe Steel, Nippon Steel, Ebara Corp, Mitsubishi Corp, Bridgestone, Mitsui Chemicals, Nisshin Steel and Sumitomo Metal Industries gained 4 to 6 percent.
Inpex Corp shares are trading nearly 4 percent up. Mitsui OSK Lines, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Nippon Yusen, Daikin Industries, Dai-ichi Life, Sumitomo Electric and Tokyo Electric Power were all up by over 3 percent.
Pacific Metal, Konica Minolta, Panasonic Corp, Oki Electric, Yokohama Rubber, Fujitsu and Japan Tobacco were also up with strong gains at the break.
Among bank stocks, Aozora Bank moved up by over 3 percent. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial, Shinsei Bank, SMFG, Chiba Bank and Bank of Yokohama were all up 1 to 1.5 percent, while Shizuoka Bank was trading modestly higher.
In the automobile space, Isuzu Motors, Hino Motor and Mazda Motor gained 2 to 2.5 percent, while Honda Motor, Nissan Motor, Suzuki Motor, Toyota Motor and Mitsubishi Motor were up 1.5 to 1.8 percent.
Among the losers, Sumitomo Osaka, Shimizu Corp, Taisei Corp, Obayashi, Advantest, Tokyo Dome and Mitsubishi Paper were down 1 to 1.6 percent.
On the economic front, Japan saw a merchandise trade deficit of 1.475 trillion yen in January, the Ministry of Finance said on Monday. That was even worse than forecasts for a shortfall of 1.456 trillion yen following the downwardly revised deficit of 205.6 billion yen in December.
Imports jumped 9.8 percent on year versus forecasts for an increase of 9.6 percent after rising 8.1 percent in the previous month. Exports plunged an annual 9.3 percent but actually beat forecasts for a contraction of 9.4 percent after plummeting 8.0 percent a month earlier.
The adjusted trade balance showed a deficit of 612.8 billion yen, beating expectations for a shortfall of 847.8 billion yen following the downwardly revised deficit of 569.7 billion yen in December.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 79 yen level in early trades in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.42 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan are trading notably higher, with their benchmark indices gaining between 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent. Malaysia and South Korea are up with modest gains, while Indonesia is down marginally. Markets across the region ended higher on Friday.
Major European markets ended higher on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index ended the day up by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index both surged 1.4 percent.
On Wall Street, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance on Friday after showing a strong upward move in the previous session. The choppy trading came as traders seemed reluctant to make any significant moves going into the long weekend.
The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a modest loss. While the Nasdaq ended down 8.1 points or 0.3 percent at 2,951.8, the Dow climbed 45.8 points or 0.4 percent to 12,989.9 and the S&P 500 edged up 3.2 points or 0.2 percent to 1,361.2.
U.S. Crude oil futures closed at a nine-month high on Friday, on some upbeat U.S. economic data and the possibility of a resolution to the Greek sovereign debt problem. Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for March delivery gained $0.93 or 0.9 percent to settle at $103.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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