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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

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Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Thursday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, led by a strong rebound in energy stocks and renewed optimism about economic growth. However, the upside is capped as traders remained cautious amid record infections of the highly contagious coronavirus delta variant in several markets in the region and across the world. Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, extending the gains of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,400 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, led by a strong rebound in energy stocks and renewed optimism about economic growth. Traders remain concerned amid the spike in COVID-19 cases of the highly contagious delta variant in New South Wales Victoria and South Australia.

Victoria has recorded 26 new local cases of coronavirus, with the total active cases reaching 144 and the fifth lockdown extended. New South Wales reported 124 new local cases and South Australia reported 4 new cases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 70.90 points or 0.97 percent to 7,380.70, after touching a high of 7,381.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 73.20 points or 0.97 percent to 7,654.10. Australian markets ended significantly higher on Wednesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is gaining almost 3 percent, while Rio Tinto, Mineral Resources and OZ Minerals are adding almost 2 percent each. Fortescue Metals is up almost 1 percent.

BHP Group signed a nickel supply agreement with Tesla and will work with the luxury electric carmaker on lowering carbon emissions in the battery supply chain. BHP said the metal will be supplied from its Nickel West project in Western Australia.

Oil stocks are higher after crude oil prices spiked overnight. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Origin Energy and Beach Energy are up almost 2 percent each. Santos is adding almost 3 percent.

Santos hit record-high sales revenue across the first half and raised its output target as the company pursues a $23 billion merger with rival Oil Search.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are gaining almost 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking is adding more than 1 percent and Westpac is edging up 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global and Afterpay are edging down 0.5 percent each, while Xero and Appen are down 0.3 percent each.

Shares in Zip are losing almost 6 percent even after the BNPL firm more than doubled revenue and transaction volumes for the quarter.

Gold miners are mixed. Resolute Mining is adding almost 2 percent and Northern Star Resources is gaining more than 2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is edging down 0.4 percent and Gold Road Resources is flat.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.735 on Thursday.

The Japanese stock market is closed for a long weekend on Thursday and Friday for public holidays, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony on Friday. Japanese shares ended significantly higher on Wednesday.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is climbing 1.8 percent, while Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia are up between 1 and 1.3 percent each. Taiwan, Malaysia and China are higher by between 0.2 and 0.6 percent each. New Zealand is bucking the trend and is down 0.1 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a strong move to the upside over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, extending the substantial rebound seen in the previous session. With the continued upward move, the major averages more than offset the sell-off seen on Monday.

The major averages reached new highs for the session going into the close of trading. The Dow climbed 286.01 points or 0.8 percent to 34,798.00, the Nasdaq advanced 133.08 points or 0.9 percent to 14,631.95 and the S&P 500 rose 35.63 points or 0.8 percent to 4,358.69.

The major European markets all also showed strong moves upside on the day. While the German DAX Index jumped by 1.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled sharply higher on Wednesday, rebounding strongly after suffering a sharp drop earlier in the week. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for September ended up $3.10 or 4.6 percent at $70.30 a barrel.

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