Asian stock markets are trading higher on Friday with investors tracking recent positive news out of Europe and the strong surge in the U.S. and European markets overnight. Though gains are just modest in most of the markets, the mood remains somewhat bullish amid renewed optimism about a recovery in the eurozone following the Greek government managing to achieve support from the bondholders for a crucial debt swap.
In the Australian market, mining, energy and property trusts stocks are trading firm. Financial, consumer discretionary, industrial and healthcare stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 28 points or 0.7 percent at 4,199. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 25.8 points or 0.6 percent at 4,288.
Among top miners, Rio Tinto is gaining more than 2 percent and BHP Billiton is up by around 1.3 percent, while Newcrest Mining is up by 3 percent.
Onesteel is trading nearly 5 percent up. Lynas Corporation, Orica and Paladin Energy are also trading notably higher.
Energy stocks Caltex Australia and Woodside Petroleum are trading higher by 3.7 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
JB Hi-Fi, Downer EDI, David Jones, Goodman Group, WorleyParsons, Aquarius Platinum, Brambles and Boart Longyear are up 1.7 to 3.2 percent.
Qantas plunged nearly 5 percent in early trading after the company's plans for a new premium airline in Asia suffered a setback. The stock is currently trading lower by 2.8 percent.
Leighton Holdings and Harvey Norman Holdings are also trading weak, losing 2.7 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.
On the economic front, Australia posted a merchandise trade deficit of A$673 million in January, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Friday. That was sharply lower than forecasts for surplus of A$1.5 billion following the surplus of A$1.71 billion in December.
Exports declined 8.0 percent on year to A$25.37 trillion from A$27.65 trillion in the previous month, while import eased an annual 1.0 percent to A$26.05 trillion from A$26.33 trillion a month earlier.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher and was quoting at US$1.0657 in early trades, up 0.4 percent from Thursday's close of US$1.0616.
Stocks opened on a buoyant note in the Japanese market with investors indulging in some hectic buying across the board amid easing worries about the crisis in the Eurozone following Greece achieving bondholder support for the crucial debt swap.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index jumped to a 7-month high of 9,939.3, and was up 150.7 points or 1.5 percent at 9,919.7 when the morning session ended.
Automobile, steel, non-ferrous metals, electric power and manufacturing stocks opened on an upbeat note and were mostly trading in positive territory with notable gains at the break. Shares from financial, pulp & paper, glass and precision instruments sections were also mostly trading higher.
In the automobile space, Mazda Motor gained over 4 percent. Hino Motors, Suzuki Motor, Honda Motor and Toyota Motor gained 2 to 3 percent. Mitsubishi Motor, Nissan Motor and Isuzu Motors also posted smart gains.
Among bank stocks, Shinsei Bank, Aozora Bank, Mizuho Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and SMFG are gaining 1.2 to 2.5 percent, while Chiba Bank, Bank of Yokohama and Shizuoka Bank are also trading higher.
Hitachi Construction Machinery moved up by over 4 percent. Oki Electric, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Sumitomo Metal Industries, JFE Holdings, Pacific Metals, Panasonic Corp and Fujikura gained 3 to 3.5 percent.
Taiyo Yuden, Trend Micro, Mitsubishi Materials, Nippon Steel, T&D Holdings, Fuji Heavy Industries, Nippon Light Metal, Kobe Steel, Toho Zinc, Advantest, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Sumitomo Chemical, Toyo Seikan and TDK Corp also moved up sharply.
Among the losers in the Nikkei index, Daikin Industries drifted down by over 4 percent. Takara Holdings, Tokyo Dome, Taiheiyo Cement, Sumco Corp and Nichirei Corp shares also traded weak.
According to data released by Bank of Japan, the M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.9 percent on year in February, standing at 804.9 trillion yen. That was shy of forecasts for an increase of 3.0 percent following the upwardly revised gain of 3.1 percent in January.
M3 money stock added an annual 2.5 percent to 1,109.6 trillion yen in February. That was just below expectations for an increase of 2.6 percent, which would have been unchanged from the previous month. L money stock added 0.3 percent on year to 1,454.2 trillion yen in February, following the revised 0.3 percent increase in January.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-81 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 81.82 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea and Indonesia are trading notably higher, while Singapore, Taiwan, Shanghai and Malaysia are up marginally. Markets across the region ended mostly higher on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks surged higher on Thursday with optimism about the developments in Greece overshadowing some disappointing U.S. jobs data. The major averages gave back some ground going into the close but remained firmly in positive territory.
The Dow rose 70.6 points or 0.6 percent to 2,970.4, the Nasdaq jumped 34.7 points or 1.2 percent to 2,970.4 and the S&P 500 climbed 13.3 points or 1 percent to 1,365.9.
Major European markets too moved higher on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 1.2 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index both jumped by 2.5 percent.
U.S. crude oil futures closed higher for a second straight day Thursday, after reports indicated that Greece was close to an agreement with private creditors in its debt swap deal. Crude for April delivery gained $0.42 or 0.4 percent to close at $106.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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