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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asian up 19may19 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday despite the weak cues from Wall Street Friday following media reports that U.S.-China trade talks have stalled. A surprise election victory for Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison lifted Australian shares, while upbeat Japanese GDP data boosted Japanese stocks.

The Australian market is notably higher, extending gains from the previous session despite the weak cues from Wall Street. Investors cheered news that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative coalition recorded a surprise election victory in the weekend's federal elections. Banks are among the leading gainers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 96.70 points or 1.52 percent to 6,462.00, after rising to a high of 6,475.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 90.30 points or 1.40 percent to 6,550.50. Australian shares closed higher on Friday.

The big four banks are up with sharp gains. Commonwealth Bank is higher by more than 6 percent, ANZ Banking is rising more than 7 percent, National Australia Bank is gaining more than 8 percent and Westpac is up almost 9 percent.

The major miners are mostly higher. Fortescue Metals is higher by almost 3 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing almost 1 percent, while BHP Group is down 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, oil stocks are weak as crude oil prices closed modestly lower on Friday. Oil Search is down 0.7 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are lower by almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices fell to a two-week low. Evolution Mining is declining 0.5 percent, while Newcrest Mining is up 0.2 percent.

Incitec Pivot reported a 72 percent fall in profit for the first half of the year following the north Queensland floods, and slashed its interim dividend by 3.2 percent. The chemicals and fertilizer manufacturer's shares are losing almost 3 percent.

Elders Ltd. reported a profit for the first half that declined 34 percent from last year, but maintained its full-year underlying earnings outlook as well as its interim dividend. The diversified agriculture company's shares are adding 0.5 percent.

Scentre Group said it has sold a 50 percent stake in Sydney's Westfield Burwood shopping centre for $575 million to Perron Group. The shopping centre company's shares are declining 0.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6903, up from $0.6989 on Friday.

The Japanese market is rising and the safe-haven yen weakened despite the weak cues from Wall Street. Investor sentiment was bolstered by data that showed the Japanese economy unexpectedly grew in the first quarter.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 81.08 points or 0.38 percent to 21,331.17, after rising to a high of 21,430.06 in early trades. Japanese shares closed higher on Friday.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Canon is advancing more than 1 percent and Panasonic is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are declining more than 1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Tokyo Electron is declining more than 2 percent, while Advantest is adding 0.6 percent. In the auto space, Honda is rising 0.3 percent and Toyota is up 0.2 percent. Suzuki Motor is higher by almost 4 percent.

Among the major banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is higher by 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising almost 1 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is advancing almost 1 percent while Japan Petroleum is declining more than 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Takeda Pharmaceutical is rising more than 4 percent, while Dena Co., Sumitomo Realty & Development, and Maruha Nichiro are higher by more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Yaskawa Electric is lower by more than 3 percent, while Fujikura and Toho Zinc are losing almost 3 percent.

On the economic front, the Cabinet Office said in Monday's preliminary reading that Japan's gross domestic product climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent on quarter in the first quarter of 2019. That beat forecasts for a fall of 0.1 percent and was up from the downwardly revised 0.4 percent gain in the three months prior.

Japan will also release final March numbers for industrial production today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan are also higher, while Shanghai, Indonesia and Hong Kong are lower. The markets in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are closed on Monday in observance of Vesak Day.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday in a volatile session. Reflecting recent market sensitivity to trade-related news, a late-day pullback came on the heels of a CNBC report indicating negotiations between the U.S. and China appear to have stalled. Citing two sources briefed on the status of trade talks, CNBC said scheduling for the next round of negotiations is "in flux" because it is unclear what the two sides would discuss.

The Dow fell 98.68 points or 0.4 percent to 25,764.00, the Nasdaq slumped 81.76 points or 1 percent to 7,816.28 and the S&P 500 dropped 16.79 points or 0.6 percent to 2,859.53.

The major European markets climbed off their worst levels but still closed lower on Friday. While the German DAX Index slid by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures pared early gains and settled modestly lower on Friday. WTI crude for June delivery slipped $0.11 or 0.17 percent to close at $62.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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