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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asiaup march17 04apr21 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday amid thin holiday trade across the Asian region, following broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Thursday on upbeat jobs and manufacturing data. Traders are also upbeat about a stimulus-fuelled global economic recovery after US President Joe Biden's speech regarding his $2 trillion infrastructure and economic recovery plan.

However, worries about rising coronavirus cases and extension of lockdown restrictions are limiting market gains. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Friday.

The Australian stock market is closed on Monday on account of Easter Monday. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday ahead of the Easter weekend. In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.762 on Monday.

Japanese stock market is significantly higher on Monday, extending gains of the previous two sessions, with the Nikkei 225 breaking above the 30,000 level to three-week highs. The cues from Wall Street on Thursday were broadly positive on upbeat jobs and manufacturing data.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 30,083.19, up 229.19 points or 0.77 percent, after touching a high of 30,195.00 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is up more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is adding almost 3 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 1 percent, while Toyota is flat.

The major exporters are also higher. Panasonic is edging down 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.1 percent. Sony and Canon are edging up 0.4 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest and Screen Holdings are gaining more than 2 percent, while Tokyo Electron is adding almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are gaining more than 2 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, Ebara Corp. is gaining almost 5 percent, while Mitsui OSK Lines and Marubeni are adding more than 3 percent each. Nippon Yusen, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Toyo Seikan Group, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Nippon Sheet Glass and Kyocera are up almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Recruit Holdings and Hitachi are down more than 1 percent each, while Takeda, Japan Exchange Group, Kubota, Daikin, GS Yuasa, Suzuki Motor, Konica Minolta and Kansai Electric Power are losing almost 1 percent each.

In economic news, the services sector in Japan expanded in February, the latest survey from au Jibun Bank revealed on Monday, with a services PMI score of 48.3 in March. That's the highest reading since January 2020 and up from 46.3 in February, 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 to 49.9 in March from 48.2 in February.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 110 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore are higher, while Malaysia edging lower. Markets in New Zealand, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are closed.

On Wall Street, stocks opened higher on Thursday and gathered steam during trading as the day progressed, closing near daily highs. The rally by technology stocks in the NASDAQ reflected solid earnings news and a retreat by treasury yields.

The major averages accelerated to the upside going into the close. The Dow climbed 171.66 points or 0.52 percent to finish at 33,153.21, while the NASDAQ spiked 233.23 points or 1.76 percent to end at 13,480.11 and the S&P 500 jumped 46.98 points or 1.18 percent to close at 4,019.87.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.35 percent, Germany's DAX surged up 0.66 percent and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.59 percent.

Crude oil prices moved sharply higher Thursday on news that OPEC has agreed to incremental increases in crude production for three months starting in May. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended higher by $2.29 or 3.9 percent at $61.45 a barrel.

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