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Asian Markets Mostly Higher


Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday with investor sentiment boosted by positive developments on the U.S.-China trade front and following the European Central Bank's announcement that it will resume its quantitative easing program.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he would consider an interim trade deal with China, though it would not be preferred. Meanwhile, the ECB lowered its main deposit rate by 10 basis points and announced plans to restart its quantitative easing program by purchasing assets at a pace of 20 billion euros per month beginning November 1.

The Australian market is advancing, with banks and the major miners among the leading gainers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 17.30 points or 0.26 percent to 6,672.20, after touching a high of 6,673.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 16.90 points or 0.25 percent to 6,782.60. Australian stocks eked out modest gains on Thursday.

The major miners are higher. Fortescue Metals is higher by 0.5 percent, BHP Billiton is adding 0.4 percent and Rio Tinto is rising 0.2 percent.

The big four banks are also advancing. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.8 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is declining 2 percent and Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent even as gold prices rose overnight.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum is declining 0.4 percent, Santos is lower by 0.3 percent and Oil Search is edging down 0.1 percent, after crude oil prices fell overnight for a third straight session.

CIMIC Group's subsidiary Thiess has won a A$1.3 billion six-year contract extension to provide mining services to Queensland's Curragh coalmine. However, shares of CIMIC Group are losing more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6861, compared to $0.6883 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is extending its winning streak, while the safe-haven yen further weakened.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 216.59 points or 1.00 percent to 21,976.20 after rising to a high of 21,983.72 earlier. Japanese shares gained for the eighth straight session on Thursday and hit a four-month high.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is advancing 0.7 percent, Sony is adding 0.6 percent and Panasonic is rising 0.2 percent, while Canon is down 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is up 0.2 percent. In the auto sector, Toyota Motor is higher by 0.3 percent, while Honda Motor is edging down 0.1 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising more than 2 percent and Fast Retailing is adding almost 2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent and Inpex is declining 0.2 percent after crude oil prices fell for a third straight session overnight.

Yahoo Japan is gaining almost 5 percent after the subsidiary of SoftBank offered to acquire a 50.1 percent stake in Japan's largest online fashion retailer Zozo for 400 billion yen, or $3.70 billion.

Among the other major gainers, FamilyMart UNY is rising more than 3 percent and Bandai Namco Holdings is higher by almost 3 percent.

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

On the economic front, Japan will see final July numbers for industrial production today.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong are also higher, while New Zealand and Malaysia are lower. The markets in China, South Korea and Taiwan are closed for public holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Thursday, but managed to close modestly higher. A report from Bloomberg News said Trump administration officials have discussed offering an interim trade agreement to China. However, stocks gave back ground after a senior White House official told CNBC the U.S. is "absolutely not" considering an interim trade deal. Positive sentiment was also generated in reaction to the European Central Bank's monetary policy decision, with the ECB cutting rates and announcing a massive new bond-buying program.

The Dow edged up 45.41 points or 0.1 percent to 27,182.45, the Nasdaq climbed 24.79 points or 0.3 percent to 8,194.47 and the S&P 500 rose 8.64 points or 0.3 percent to 3,009.57.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday following the ECB announcement. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both rose 0.4 percent.

Crude oil futures ended lower on Thursday, extending losses to a third straight session, weighed down by a downward revision in OPEC's oil demand forecast and speculation that the U.S. may ease sanctions on Iran. WTI crude for October ended down $0.66 or about 1.2 percent at $55.09 a barrel.

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