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Asian Markets Mostly Higher With Modest Gains

asiancommentary dec19 19sep19 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday despite the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street amid continued uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates following the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday.

Gains are modest in most markets as investors digested news that the U.S. and Chinese deputy trade negotiators have resumed face-to-face talks for the first time in almost two months on Thursday.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 48.10 points or 0.72 percent to 6,765.60, after rising to a high of 6,771.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 48.60 points or 0.71 percent to 6,873.80. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac - are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent.

In the oil space, Santos is advancing almost 1 percent, Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.5 percent and Oil Search is up 0.3 percent after crude oil prices edged up overnight.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is rising almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is higher by more than 1 percent even as gold prices declined overnight.

The major miners are mostly lower. Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.4 percent, while BHP Billiton is adding 0.5 percent.

Premier Investments reported a nearly 28 percent increase in full-year profit on higher revenues and increased its final dividend. The conglomerate's shares are gaining almost 14 percent.

Pushpay Holdings has raised its earnings outlook for the year to March 31 on cost efficiency improvements. The New Zealand-based mobile app payments developer's shares are advancing more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6795, compared to $0.6781 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is advancing despite the lackluster cues from Wall Street as investors shifted focus to the U.S.-China trade talks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 100.16 points or 0.45 percent to 22,144.61, after touching a high of 22,151.43 in early trades. Japanese shares closed higher on Thursday after the Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged.

The major exporters are mostly higher despite a stronger yen. Sony is advancing almost 1 percent, while Panasonic and Canon are adding 0.3 percent each. Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by 0.3 percent while Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.1 percent. In the auto sector, Honda Motor is rising 0.4 percent and Toyota Motor is advancing almost 1 percent.

Shares of Akebono Brake Industry Co. are losing more than 2 percent after the auto parts maker announced plans to close six plants in Japan and abroad to rebuild its business.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is higher by more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is adding 0.3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Japan Petroleum is losing more than 2 percent and Inpex is down 0.6 percent after crude oil prices ended little changed overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Rakuten, Dena Co., Olympus Corp. and Chughai Pharmaceutical Co. are all rising more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that overall nationwide consumer prices in Japan were up just 0.3 percent on year in August. That was in line with expectations and slowing from 0.5 percent in July - moving further away from the Bank of Japan's target range of 2.0 percent.

Core CPI, which excludes volatile food prices, rose an annual 0.5 percent - easing from 0.6 percent in the previous month.

Japan is also slated to release August figures for department and convenience store sales today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 107 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, New Zealand and Taiwan are also higher, while Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong are lower. Singapore is little changed.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed for the second straight day on Thursday amid continued uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates following the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement on Wednesday. The Fed lowered interest by 25 basis points as expected but indicated officials are mixed about whether the central bank should cut rates again before the end of the year.

While the Dow dipped 52.29 points or 0.2 percent to 27,094.79, the Nasdaq inched up 5.49 points or 0.1 percent to 8,182.88 and the S&P 500 crept up 0.06 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 3,006.79.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both rose by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil futures settled just marginally up on Thursday, despite moving up sharply early on in the session. WTI crude for October ended up by $0.02 at $58.13 a barrel.

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