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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Thursday with investor sentiment buoyed by news that the U.S. and China have granted tariff exemptions to each other ahead of the next round of trade talks. Optimism about new global stimulus ahead of the European Central Bank's monetary policy decision later in the day also boosted risk appetite.

The Australian stock market is rising following the positive cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 39.50 points or 0.60 percent to 6,677.50, after touching a high of 6,681.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 39.50 points or 0.58 percent to 6,791.10. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Wednesday.

The major miners are higher. Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto is rising 0.5 percent and BHP Billiton is adding 0.4 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is adding more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is advancing almost 2 percent after gold prices rose overnight.

The big four banks are also advancing. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.7 percent to 0.8 percent.

Commonwealth Bank said it has issued $2.5 billion worth of subordinated notes, after the banking regulator said that banks need to bolster their capital.

Westpac chief financial officer Peter King will retire in 2020 after serving for 25 years with the bank. King has given twelve months' notice and will continue in the role until a successor is appointed.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum is declining almost 1 percent and Oil Search is lower by 0.3 percent, while Santos is adding 0.3 percent, after crude oil prices fell overnight.

In economic news, Australia will today see September results for its consumer inflation forecast in August.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6876, compared to $0.6873 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is extending its winning streak and the safe-haven yen weakened following the positive cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 214.34 points or 0.99 percent to 21,812.10, after rising to a high of 21,819.96 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher for the seventh straight session on Wednesday.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is higher by almost 2 percent, Sony is advancing more than 1 percent and Canon is adding almost 1 percent, while Panasonic is lower by 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by almost 3 percent. In the auto sector, Honda Motor is adding almost 1 percent, while Toyota Motor is down 0.3 percent.

Shares of Yahoo Japan are gaining more than 4 percent after the company said it plans to acquire a 50.1 percent stake in online fashion retailer Zozo Inc. for about 400 billion yen, or $3.7 billion. Zozo's shares are higher by more than 15 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising almost 1 percent and Fast Retailing is adding 0.2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Japan Petroleum is adding 0.3 percent and Inpex is higher by more than 1 percent even as crude oil prices fell overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Dai Nippon Printing is gaining more than 8 percent and Screen Holdings is rising more than 5 percent.

On the flip side, Rakuten is declining more than 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Cabinet Office said that core machine orders in Japan were down a seasonally adjusted 6.6 percent on month in July, coming in at 896.9 billion yen. That beat expectations for a fall of 8.1 percent following the 13.9 percent surge in June.

The Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were down 0.3 percent on month in August, shy of expectations for a drop of 0.2 percent following the flat reading in July.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 108 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Malaysia and Taiwan are also higher, while Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong are lower. The South Korean market is closed for the Chuseok Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday following news that China is granting tariff exemptions for 16 types of American-made products as a sign of goodwill ahead of the next round of trade talks. Stocks also benefited from optimism about new global stimulus ahead of the European Central Bank's monetary policy decision on Thursday as well as next week's Federal Reserve meeting.

The Dow advanced 227.61 points or 0.9 percent to 27,137.04, the Nasdaq jumped 85.52 points or 1.1 percent to 8,169.68 and the S&P 500 climbed 21.54 points or 0.7 percent to 3,000.93.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index shot up by 1 percent, German DAX Index climbed by 0.7 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices declined sharply on Wednesday as a downward revision in OPEC's oil demand forecast and speculation that the U.S. may ease sanctions on Iran outweighed data showing a larger than expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. WTI crude for October ended down $1.65 or about 2.9 percent at $55.75 a barrel, the lowest settlement since September 3.

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