Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asiancommentary dec27 22nov20

Asian stock markets, with the exception of Hong Kong, are advancing on Monday despite the negative cues from Wall Street Friday. Optimism about the development of coronavirus vaccines and a quick economic recovery lifted the markets. The Japanese market is closed for a holiday.

The Australian market is rising as investor sentiment was boosted by easing coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the country as the border between New South Wales and Victoria was fully reopened after more than four months. Investors also cheered upbeat Australian manufacturing sector data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 50.70 points or 0.78 percent to 6,589.90 after touching a high of 6,590.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 56.70 points or 0.84 percent to 6,796.60. Australian stocks edged lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is gaining almost 6 percent, BHP Group is rising more than 3 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also notably higher after crude oil prices advanced on Friday. Oil Search is climbing almost 4 percent, Santos is rising almost 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding more than 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks are mixed. Westpac is adding 0.7 percent and National Australia Bank is edging up 0.1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is declining 0.4 percent and ANZ Banking is down 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are also mixed even as gold prices rose Friday. Newcrest Mining is rising almost 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is lower by 0.5 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in November, and at a faster rate, with a Manufacturing PMI score of 56.1. That's up from 54.2 in October and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The survey also showed that the services index rose to 54.9 from 53.8, while the composite index came in at 54.7 - up from 53.6 a month earlier.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is rising almost 2 percent, while Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are also higher. Bucking the trend, Hong Kong is lower. The Japanese market is closed for the Labor Thanksgiving Day.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday, reflecting concerns about the near-term economic outlook amid a continued spike in new coronavirus cases in the U.S. The continued surge in new cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. has raised concerns new restrictions and lockdowns will dampen the economy recovery. Adding to the economic uncertainty, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced a decision to allow five of the Federal Reserve's nine emergency lending programs to expire at the end of the year.

The Dow slid 219.75 points or 0.8 percent to 29,263.48, the Nasdaq fell 49.74 points or 0.4 percent to 11,854.97 and the S&P 500 dropped 24.33 points or 0.7 percent to 3,557.54.
Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both climbed by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Friday, lifted by optimism about a Covid-19 vaccine and a likely pick-up in energy demand once the vaccines get the nod from drug regulators. WTI crude for December settled at $42.15 a barrel, gaining $0.41 or about 1 percent, on the expiration day. New front-month contract January WTI futures closed up by $0.52 or 1.2 percent at $42.42 a barrel.

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