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Asian Markets Mostly Higher, Oil Prices Rise


Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday with modest gains in the absence of fresh cues from Wall Street and European markets, which were closed for the Good Friday holiday. The markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong remained closed for the Easter Monday holiday.

Crude oil prices are rising almost 3 percent after the Washington Post reported that the U.S. is preparing to announce on Monday that all importers of Iranian oil will have to end their purchases shortly or face U.S. sanctions.

The Japanese market has recovered after a weak start and is modestly higher.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 68.27 points or 0.31 percent to 22,268.83, after touching a low of 22,143.28 in early trades. Japanese shares closed higher on Friday.

The major exporters are mostly higher with modest gains on a slightly weaker yen. Sony is rising 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are edging up 0.1 percent each. Panasonic is down 0.1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is adding 0.5 percent, while Tokyo Electron is lower by 0.4 percent. In the auto space, Toyota is rising 0.3 percent, while Honda is losing 0.5 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.6 percent.

The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Mitsubishi UFJ will book write-downs and other charges of about 100 billion yen on its credit card business in the year to March 2019, but is likely to maintain its profit forecast for the full year despite the charge.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is advancing almost 2 percent and Inpex is rising 0.3 percent after crude oil prices gained more than 1 percent on the prospects of U.S. sanctions.

Among the other major gainers, FamilyMart UNY and Toho Co. are rising more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Screen Holdings is lower by more than 3 percent and Yamato Holdings is declining more than 2 percent, while Chiyoda Corp. and Furukawa Electric are losing almost 2 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will on Monday see convenience store sales data for March.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 111 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan are also modestly higher, while Shanghai and Indonesia are lower. Markets in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong are closed for the Easter Monday holiday.

On Friday, the U.S. and most major European markets were closed for the Good Friday holiday.

In Asian trades, WTI crude oil prices are surging $1.79 or 2.80 percent to $65.79 a barrel.

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