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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asiancommentary dec17 18oct20 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday despite the mixed cues from Wall Street Friday. Data showing that China's economy continued to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and optimism about a U.S. stimulus package before the presidential elections in November boosted investor sentiment.

The National Bureau of Statistics said China's gross domestic product was up 4.9 percent on year in the third quarter of 2020, missing forecasts for a gain of 5.2 percent but still up from 3.2 percent in the three months prior.

The Australian market is rising.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 62.30 points or 1.01 percent to 6,239.10, off a high of 6,240.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 57.60 points or 0.90 percent to 6,442.60. Australian stocks closed lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent, while BHP Group and Rio Tinto are advancing more than 1 percent each.

In the banking space, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 1.0 percent to 1.2 percent.

Oil stocks are also higher even as crude oil prices closed modestly lower on Friday. Oil Search is advancing more than 1 percent, Santos is rising 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower Friday. Newcrest Mining is adding 0.7 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.2 percent.

Australia's financial crime watchdog AUSTRAC will investigate possible money laundering and other breaches at gaming and hotel group Crown Resorts' operations in Melbourne. Shares of Crown Resorts are tumbling almost 8 percent.

In economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia will release the minutes from the bank's monetary policy meeting on October 6. At the meeting, the central bank retained its benchmark interest rate at the record low of 0.25 percent and also decided to maintain cash rate and the targeted yield on three-year government bonds of 25 basis points.

The Japanese market is advancing as data showed that Japan posted a merchandise trade surplus in September that increased from the previous month.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 270.17 points or 1.15 percent to 23,680.80, after touching a high of 23,686.47 earlier. Japanese stocks closed lower on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.1 percent, while Fast Retailing is down 0.5 percent.

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

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding 0.6 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are higher by 0.7 percent each. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are adding more than 1 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, Toray Industries is rising more than 5 percent and J Front Retailing is gaining almost 5 percent. Denka Co. and IHI Corp. are advancing more than 4 percent each, while Kawasaki Heavy Industries is up almost 4 percent.

Conversely, Konami Holdings is losing almost 2 percent.

In economic news, the Ministry of Finance said Japan posted a merchandise trade surplus of 674.978 billion yen in September. That was shy of expectations for a surplus of 989.8 billion yen, but still up from the 248.3 billion yen surplus in August.

Exports were down 4.9 percent on year to 6.055 trillion yen - missing forecasts for a fall of 2.4 percent, following the 14.8 percent slide in the previous month. Imports sank an annual 17.2 percent to 5.380 trillion yen, versus expectations for a decline of 21.4 percent following the 20.8 percent drop a month earlier.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 105 yen-range on Monday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday after moving sharply higher early in the session. The late-day pullback may have reflected lingering uncertainty about a new stimulus bill, with the slump also being attributed to the expiration of equity options. The rally seen in early trading came as much better than expected retail sales data partly offset recent concerns the economic recovery may be stalling.

While the Nasdaq fell 42.32 points or 0.4 percent to 11,671.56, the Dow rose 112.11 points or 0.4 percent to 28,606.31 and the S&P 500 inched up 0.47 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 3,483.81.

The major European markets showed strong moves to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 2 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rebounded from the session's lows, but still ended marginally lower on Friday as worries about the demand outlook amid the continued surge in coronavirus cases weighed on the commodity. WTI crude for November delivery edged down $0.08 or about 0.2 percent to $40.88 a barrel.

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