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Asian Markets Notably Higher

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Asian stock markets are notably higher on Thursday on a broadly positive lead from Wall Street overnight as well as easing bond yields and surging crude oil prices. Investors are refocusing on a vaccine and stimulus-driven global economic recovery with optimism about the reopening of the economy.

The Australian stock market is higher on Thursday, recouping some of the recent losses. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose above the 6,800 level as the boarder market was boosted by a rally in the materials and energy sectors. Value-oriented stocks are once again dominating as investors are refocusing on a vaccine and stimulus-driven global economic recovery.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 64.60 points or 0.95 percent to 6,842.40, after touching a low of 6,777.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 63.10 points or 0.90 percent to 7,112.50. Australian stocks closed lower on Wednesday.

The major miners are mostly lower. Fortescue Metals is losing more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down nearly 3 percent, while BHP Group is lower by more than 3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is losing nearly 2 percent and Santos is edging down 0.4 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac is edging down 0.5 percent and ANZ Banking is also edging down 0.7 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging up 0.2 percent. Commonwealth Bank is declining more 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, tech stocks are mostly lower. Appen is losing more than 12 percent and Afterpay is down almost 3 percent, while WiseTech Global is up more than 1 percent.

Buy-now-pay-later provider Afterpay reported a net loss for the first-half of A$76.5 million, sharply wider than a A$28.9 million net loss in the same period last year.

Artificial intelligence services company Appen shares are sinking after it provided a lower than expected weak guidance 2021. For the Full-year 2021, Appen posted a 12 percent increase in revenue to A$599.9 million and an 8 percent growth in EBITDA to A$108.6 million.

Gold miners are lower as a firmer dollar dented the precious metal's appeal. Evolution Mining is edging down 0.2 and Newcrest Mining is losing 0.6 percent.

Shares of Qantas Airways are edging down 0.4 percent after it posted a net loss of A$1.03 billion for the first-half of fiscal 2021, compared to an interim profit of A$771 million last year. It also recorded a A$6.9 billion drop in revenue, hurt by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that private capital expenditure in Australia unexpectedly rose a seasonally adjusted 3.0 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2020 after seven straight quarters of decline, coming in at A$29.385 billion. That beat expectations for a flat reading following the 3.0 percent drop in the three months prior.

The Japanese stock market is significantly higher on Thursday, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 surging more than 500 points driven by a strong rally in the energy sector. There is optimism about the reopening of the economy, with the Japanese government is considering lifting a state of emergency in five prefectures, including Osaka and Kyoto.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 30,156.48, up 484.78 points or 1.63 percent, after touching a high of 30,213.28 in early trades. Japanese shares closed significantly lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing more than 3 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is rising more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are adding more than 2 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging up 0.5 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up nearly 1 percent.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is up more than 1 percent, Canon is adding nearly 1 percent, Panasonic is rising more than 1 percent and Sony is up more than 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Isetan Mitsukoshi is rising more than 5 percent, while Takashimaya, J front Retailing, IHI Corp. and Mitsui Fudosan are all higher by more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, Screen Holdings is losing more than 7 percent, while Trend Micro, Taiyo Yuden, NEC and Sony are all lower by almost 6 percent. Soft Bank, Konami, Fanuc and Yokohama Rubber are all losing nearly 5 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 106 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, markets in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are all higher by around 1 percent. Hong Kong is up nearly 2 percent and South Korea is adding more than 2 percent, while New Zealand is lower.

On Wall Street, stocks continued to advance over the course of the trading day on Wednesday after recovering from the sell-off seen early in the previous session. With the upward move, the Dow ended the session at a new record closing high.

The Dow soared 424.51 points or 1.4 percent to 31,961.86 and the S&P 500 jumped 44.06 points or 1.1 percent to 3,925.43. The tech-heavy Nasdaq also surged up 132.77 points or 1 percent to 13,597.97 after tumbling by nearly 180 points in early trading.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.5 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices were sharply higher Wednesday, fueled by the likely impact of last week's severe cold conditions on refinery activity in Texas. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended up $1.55 or 2.5 percent at $63.22 a barrel, the highest settlement since January 2020.

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