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Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Trade Optimism


Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday after Wall Street extended gains overnight amid optimism over improvement in U.S.-China trade relations after President Donald Trump said he had a "very good" conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping about trade.

Tech stocks are mixed after Apple reported upbeat corporate earnings results, but warned of slower holiday sales. Investors now look ahead to the U.S. Labor Department's closely-watched employment report for the month of October to be released later today.

The Australian stock market is declining on Friday despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street, reflecting weakness in banks and oil stocks. Investors also digested mixed corporate earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 12.20 points or 0.21 percent to 5,828.60, off a low of 5,815.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 8.90 points or 0.15 percent to 5,917.00. Australian shares ended modestly higher on Thursday.

In the banking space, Westpac, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 1.0 percent to 1.3 percent.

Macquarie Group said its first-half profit rose 5 percent, announcing its final set of results before the retirement of Nicolas Moore as chief executive. The investment bank's shares are rising more than 3 percent.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices fell for a fourth straight session overnight. Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search are all losing more than 1 percent each.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 1 percent, BHP is adding 1 percent and Rio Tinto is up 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are also advancing after gold prices rose overnight. Evolution Mining is adding 0.4 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising more than 1 percent each.

Orica reported a 16 percent decline in its full-year underlying profit, but declared an increase in the final dividend from a year earlier. The explosives maker's shares are gaining 5 percent.

CSR reported a 77 percent plunge in its half-year profit and said it expects to make a decision on whether to spin off the Viridian glass business by the end of the year. The construction material supplier's shares are losing more than 6 percent.

Myob Group said it has opened its books to U.S. private equity firm KKR, which raised its proposed takeover bid for the company to A$1.78 billion. The accounting software provider's shares are rising more than 4 percent.

Austal said its Australian business was hit with a data breach and extortion attempt, but added that there was no evidence of theft of national security information. The defense shipbuilder's shares are advancing almost 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that retail sales in Australia rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent on month in September, coming in at A$26.892 billion. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent, which would have been unchanged from the August reading.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also said that final demand producer prices in Australia were up 0.8 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2018, accelerating from the 0.3 percent gain in the second quarter.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar held onto overnight gains and was quoted at $0.7204 on Friday.

The Japanese market is advancing following the overnight gains on Wall Street amid optimism over improvement in U.S.-China trade relations and on upbeat corporate earnings results.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 290.13 points or 1.34 percent to 21,977.78, after rising to a high of 22,008.36 earlier. Japanese shares fell on Thursday after two straight days of gains.

The major exporters are mixed on a slightly stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 2 percent and Canon is adding 0.3 percent, while Sony is losing almost 2 percent and Panasonic is down 0.6 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is gaining more than 8 percent and Tokyo Electron is rising more than 5 percent after tech giant Apple reported fourth-quarter results that beat estimates. Conglomerate SoftBank is advancing more than 3 percent.

Among auto makers, Toyota is declining more than 1 percent and Honda is down 0.4 percent. Shares of Subaru are losing almost 2 percent after it issued a recall for more than 410,000 cars due to a faulty engine part that could cause the vehicles to stall.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.4 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is lower by more than 2 percent, while Japan Petroleum is adding 0.4 percent after crude oil prices fell for a fourth straight session overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is rising more than 12 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery is higher by almost 7 percent.

On the flip side, Chiyoda Corp. is losing more than 17 percent, Mitsui E&S is declining more than 6 percent and JGC Corp. is lower by more than 3 percent.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said Friday that the monetary base in Japan was up 5.9 percent on year in October, coming in at 501.619 trillion yen. That was unchanged from the previous month, which also saw a 5.9 percent jump.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea and Hong Kong are rising more than 2 percent each, while Shanghai is adding more than 1 percent. Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are also higher, while New Zealand is edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday after President Donald Trump said he had a "very good" conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping about trade. The tweet from Trump comes following recent reports the U.S. will impose tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if the talks on the sidelines of the G20 summit fail to ease the trade war.

The Dow surged up 264.98 points or 1.1 percent to 25,380.74, the Nasdaq soared 128.16 points or 1.8 percent to 7,434.06 and the S&P 500 jumped 28.63 points or 1.1 percent to 2,740.37.

The major European markets ended mixed on Thursday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both dipped by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices extended losses on Thursday to a fourth successive session, weighed by recent data that showed an increase in U.S. oil inventories for the sixth successive week. WTI crude for December fell $1.62 or 2.5 percent to close at 63.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement in nearly seven months.

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