Asian stock markets are mostly trading higher on Monday with investors tracking cues from the U.S. and European markets where stocks extended a recent rally and posted solid gains on Friday.
However, with profit taking creeping in amid a lack of fresh triggers, most of the markets in the region are currently trading off their highs.
The Australian market is trading modestly higher with investors indulging in some selective buying. Mining stocks are mostly trading notably higher. Financial and energy stocks are trading mixed, while consumer staples, industrial and healthcare stocks are trading weak.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to around 4,406, is currently trading at 4,398.6, up 8.6 points or 0.2 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 6.6 points at 4,416.8, off the day's high of 4,424.8.
In the mining sector, BHP Billiton (BHP: Quote,BBL: Quote) is up more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto (RIO: Quote,RIO.L) is adding 1.6 percent and Newcrest Mining is up with a gain of 1.4 percent.
Among energy stocks, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search are trading modestly higher, while Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are trading lower by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
In the banking space, ANZ Bank (ANZ: Quote), Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK: Quote) are up 0.4 to 0.8 percent, while Bank of Queensland and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank are trading flat.
Leighton Holdings shares are up 5 more than percent. The company announced that the first large-scale production of drinking water has started at its troubled Victorian desalination plant. The desalination plant and the company's Brisbane Airport Link toll road were the main reasons Leighton downgraded its profit forecast by A$256 million in March.
Iluka Resources is trading higher by nearly 7 percent. Boart Longyear is up by around 2.5 percent and Aurora Oil & Gas is up with a gain of 2 percent.
Primary Healthcare and Brambles are down more than 3.7 percent. Whitehaven Coal, Seven West Media, CSL, Ramsay Healthcare, ResMed Inc (RMD: Quote) and Perseus Mining are down 2 to 3 percent.
David Jones is down nearly 2 percent amid reports of a likely 40 percent slump in earnings for the year.
AGL Energy, Sonic Healthcare, Fairfax Media, Computershare and Regis Resources are also trading notably lower.
Macmahon Holdings are under a trading halt. The company said it will release a fresh update on its earnings guidance following a deterioration in the financial performance of its construction business.
The company which is experiencing uncertainty about the outlook for new construction work, is 20 percent owned by Leighton Holdings. It had reported a 45 percent rise in net profit to A$56.1 million for the 12 months to June 30.
In economic news, sales of new motor vehicles in Australia rose 3.6 per cent in August, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The report said 93,379 new vehicles were sold, seasonally adjusted, in August, as compared to an upwardly revised 90,135 in July. In the year to August, new motor vehicle sales rose 6.4 per cent, seasonally adjusted.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan are trading notably higher. Hong Kong and Indonesia are up marginally, while Shanghai and South Korea are trading weak.
Markets in Malaysia and Japan are closed for holidays due to Malaysia Day and Respect For the Aged Day, respectively.
On Wall Street, stocks surged higher on Friday, continuing to benefit from a positive reaction to the Federal Reserve's announcement of additional quantitative easing.
The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory, although off their best levels of the session. The Dow rose 53.5 points or 0.4 percent to 13,593.4, the Nasdaq jumped 28.1 points or 0.9 percent to 3,184 and the S&P 500 climbed 5.8 points or 0.4 percent to 1,465.8.
Major European markets moved up sharply on Friday. While the French CAC 40 index soared 2.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the German DAX index jumped 1.6 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil extended gains to end at a four-month high on Friday, on supply concerns and as well riding on the aftermath of the U.S. Federal Reserve's additional quantitative easing measures to shore up growth in the world's largest economy.
Crude for October delivery jumped $0.69 or 0.7 percent to close at $99.00 a barrel on the New York Mercantile, after scaling a high of $100.42 a barrel intraday.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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