Plus   Neg

Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asianup march03 02mar21 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday despite the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street. The markets continue to be optimism about higher fiscal stimulus and the global economic recovery as U.S. bond yields moved lower for the third straight session and lower crude oil prices. Asian stocks broadly closed lower on Tuesday.

The Australian stock market is rising on Wednesday, recouping some of its recent losses, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rising again above the 6,800 level, driven by a huge rally in the materials stocks. Latest GDP figures also show that Australia's economy is recovering as it expanded for the second straight quarter.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 54.00 points or 0.80 percent to 6,816.30, after hitting a high of 6,817.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is higher by 55.70 points or 0.79 percent to 7,065.30. Australian markets erased early gains to end lower on Tuesday.

In the tech space, Appen and Afterpay are falling more than 2 percent, while WiseTech Global is gaining 0.6 percent.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices snapped a five-day losing streak. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are gaining over 2 percent, while Northern Star Resources is adding almost 4 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is rising nearly 3 percent, Fortescue Metals is higher by more 3 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent.

Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson is stepping down and will not seek re-election following investor pressure on mishandling of investigations after destruction of two ancient Aboriginal rock shelters.

Oil stocks are higher, with Oil Search rising nearly 1 percent, Santos adding nearly 2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.2 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and National Australia Bank are advancing more than 1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.5 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday that Australia's gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 3.1 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2020. That beat expectations for a gain of 2.5 percent the upwardly revised 3.4 percent gain in the previous three months (originally 3.3 percent). On a yearly basis, GDP was down 1.1 percent - again exceeding expectations for a decline of 1.8 percent after sinking 3.8 percent in the three months prior.

The latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the construction sector in Australia continued to expand in February, albeit at a slightly slower pace, with a Performance of Construction Index score of 57.4. That's down from 57.6 in January, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. All four sectors in the index recovered strongly in February.

The services sector in Australia continued to expand in February, albeit at a slightly slower pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed, with a services PMI score of 53.4. That's lower than 55.6 in January and preliminary estimate of 54.1, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that its composite index fell to 53.7 in February from 55.9 in January and compared to a preliminary estimate of 54.4.

The Japanese stock market is gaining on Wednesday, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 reaching above the 29,400 level after hovering around the unchanged line. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,459.71, up 51.54 points or 0.18 percent, after touching a high of 29,538.76 in early trades. Japanese shares ended lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is declining almost 1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Honda is adding more tha 2 percent, while Toyota is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is lower by more than 2 percent and Advantest is down almost 3 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are relatively flat.

The major exporters are lower even as the yen fell to a four-month low against the U.S. dollar. Panasonic is declining almost 2 percent and Sony is down nearly 1 percent. Canon is edging up 0.6 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.6 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Kobe Steel is gaining more than 7 percent and JFE Holdings is adding almost 5 percent, while Kawasaki Heavy Industries, IHI Corp. and Kyowa Kirin are up more than 4 percent each. AGC Inc., Mitsui E&S Holdings, NTN Corp. Hitachi Hosen and Nippon Steel are rising almost 4 percent each.

Conversely, Fujitsu and Kubota are losing almost 4 percent, while Toto, Z Holdings, Nexon and M3 are lower by more than 2 percent.

In economic news, the services sector in Japan contracted for the thirteenth straight month in February, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from au Jibun Bank revealed on Wednesday, with a services PMI score of 46.3. That's up from 46.1 in January and a preliminary reading of 45.8, although it remains beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the composite index rose from 47.1 to 48.2 in February.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong, South Korea, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan and Malaysia are all higher, while New Zealand is edging down.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower over the course of the trading day on Tuesday, partly offsetting the rally seen in the previous session. The major averages all moved to the downside, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq showing a particularly steep drop.

The major averages came under pressure going into the close, ending the day just off their lows of the session. The Dow fell 143.99 points or 0.5 percent to 31,391.52, the Nasdaq tumbled 230.04 points or 1.7 percent to 13,358.79 and the S&P 500 slid 31.53 points or 0.8 percent to 3,870.29.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside over the course of the session. While the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower Tuesday ahead of the upcoming OPEC meeting that may see the group hike production. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended down $0.89 or 1.5 percent at $59.75 a barrel.

For comments and feedback contact: editorial@rttnews.com

Follow RTT