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Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Upbeat Economic Data

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday following the positive lead from Wall Street and as upbeat economic data from Japan, China and South Korea boosted optimism about global economic growth. The markets in South Korea, China, India and Hong Kong are closed on Monday for public holidays.

Japan's Tankan survey results showed that business confidence among large manufacturers improved in the third quarter to the highest in a decade, while South Korea's exports surged 35 percent year-on-year in September and China's manufacturing activity also grew at the fastest pace since 2012 in September.

The Australian market is notably higher, with broad-based gains across all sectors following the positive lead from Wall Street.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 67.20 points or 1.18 percent to 5,748.80, off a high of 5,749.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 64.20 points or 1.12 percent to 5,809.10.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is adding more than 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is up almost 2 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing more than 2 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are up almost 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are also rising. Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Santos is up more than 1 percent.

Beach Energy said it has raised A$201 million from the institutional portion of its rights share issue to fund it's A$1.59 billion acquisition of Lattice Energy. Shares of the oil and gas explorer are gaining more than 13 percent.

In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.9 percent to 1.5 percent.

CIMIC Group said its unit UGL has won a A$133 million contract to build the first stage of the 110 megawatts Bannerton solar park in Victoria. Shares of CIMIC are adding 0.5 percent.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in September, albeit at a much slower pace, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 54.2.

That's down sharply from 59.8 in August, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7844, up from US$0.7840 on Friday.

The Japanese market is modestly higher following the positive cues from Wall Street on Friday and as investors digested upbeat economic data, including the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey results that showed business sentiment at a decade-high.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 44.72 points or 0.22 percent to 20,401.00, off a high of 20,411.33 earlier.

Among automakers, Toyota is down 0.3 percent and Honda is lower by 0.2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing 0.5 percent.

The major exporters are declining despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is down 0.5 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.4 percent, Sony is declining 0.2 percent and Canon is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is edging up less than 0.1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is down almost 1 percent.

Among the best performers, Showa Denko is rising almost 4 percent, while Hokuetsu Kishu Paper and FamilyMart UNY Holdings are advancing almost 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Nissan Motor is lower by more than 3 percent, Yahoo Japan is losing almost 3 percent and Tosoh Corp. is down almost 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said in its quarterly Tankan business survey that an index monitoring business sentiment in Japan gained momentum in the third quarter of 2017. The large manufacturers' index came in with a score of +22, beating expectations for +18 and up from +17 in the previous quarter.

Meanwhile, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in September, and at a faster pace, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.9. That's up from 52.2 in August, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 112 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan are also higher, while New Zealand and Malaysia are edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday, even as buying interest was subdued. U.S. personal income and spending both rose in line with economist estimates in the month of August, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday.

President Donald Trump reportedly met with former Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh to discuss his potential nomination as the next chair of the central bank. Warsh is seen as more hawkish than current Fed Chair Janet Yellen and has been a vocal critic of the Fed's monetary stimulus policies since the financial crisis.

The Dow inched up just 23.89 points or 0.1 percent to 22,405.09. The Nasdaq advanced 42.51 points or 0.7 percent to 6,495.96 and the S&P 500 climbed 9.30 points or 0.4 percent to 2,519.36.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both advanced by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil futures were flat Friday, preserving recent gains amid concerns about supplies from the Middle East due to tensions between Kurdistan and Turkey. November WTI oil climbed $0.11 or 0.2 percent to settle at $51.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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