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Asian Markets Higher After Upbeat U.S. Jobs Data

asiancommentary jan18 02jul20 lt

Asian stock markets are higher on Friday following the overnight gains on Wall Street after a report by the U.S. Labor Department showed another record spike in employment in the month of June and added to optimism about an economic recovery. Data showing that China's service sector expanded strongly in June also boosted sentiment.

Nevertheless, worries about the surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and other parts of the world weighed on the markets.

The Australian market is advancing for a fourth straight day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 56.00 points or 0.93 percent to 6,088.70, after touching a high of 6,101.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 54.20 points or 0.88 percent to 6,196.50. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday.

Among the major miners, BHP is advancing almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding 0.4 percent, while Rio Tinto is edging down 0.1 percent.

Rio Tinto, which completed an updated feasibility study for the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia, said the schedule and cost estimates for the project are in line with earlier forecasts. However, it cut the estimated reserves it would mine at Oyu Tolgoi following a redesign to its mine plan.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices advanced overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is up 0.5 percent.

Oil stocks are rising after crude oil prices rose to a four-month high overnight. Santos and Woodside Petroleum are higher by more than 1 percent each, while Oil Search is adding almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are higher in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging up 0.1 percent.

Hearing implant provider Cochlear has gained approval to introduce four products to the U.S. and European markets. The four products are Nucleus Kanso 2 and Nucleus 7 cochlear implant sound processors, Custom Sound Pro fitting software and the Nucleus SmartNav system. Cochlear's shares are gaining almost 5 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6921, compared to $0.6929 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is rising following the gains on Wall Street. Nevertheless, worries about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Tokyo weighed on sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 136.59 points or 0.62 percent to 22,282.55, after touching a high of 22,312.44 earlier. Japanese shares closed marginally higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is rising almost 2 percent and Fast Retailing is adding almost 1 percent.

In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group is up 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ is lower by 0.2 percent.

The major exporters are mixed. Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.1 percent, while Panasonic is edging down 0.1 percent and Sony is unchanged.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is up 0.3 percent, while Toyota is lower by 0.4 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is adding 0.5 percent, while Inpex is edging down 0.1 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

Among the major gainers, M3 and Screen Holdings are rising more than 3 percent each, while Nissan Chemical and Yamato Holdings are higher by almost 3 percent each.

On the flip side, J Front Retailing is losing 4 percent, Takashimaya Co. is lower by 3 percent and Tokyu Fudosan is declining more than 2 percent.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai is rising more than 1 percent, while South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher.

On Wall Street, stocks rose on Thursday after the Labor Department report showed that non-farm payroll employment skyrocketed by 4.8 million jobs in June after soaring by an upwardly revised 2.7 million jobs in May. The data initially added to optimism about an economic recovery, although a number of economists pointed out that the employment numbers are still well below pre-pandemic levels. Concerns about the recent surge in new coronavirus cases contributed to a late-day pullback.

The Dow rose 92.39 points or 0.4 percent to 25,827.36, the Nasdaq advanced 53.00 points or 0.5 percent to 10,207.63 and the S&P 500 climbed 14.15 points or 0.5 percent to 3,130.01.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index surged up by 2.5 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices climbed on Thursday, with stronger than expected jobs data and optimism about a potential coronavirus vaccine triggering hopes that energy demand will pick up soon. WTI crude for August rose $0.83 or about 2.1 percent at $40.65 a barrel, the highest close for a front- month contract in four months.

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