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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

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Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Monday, ignoring the broadly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday as traders are optimistic about a faster pace of the global economic recovery from the pandemic, with improving manufacturing data reported in most major markets. However, the upside is limited amid continued concerns about the rapid spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variants in the region. Asian markets closed mostly lower on Friday.

The Australian stock market is sharply higher on Monday, recouping the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 breaking above the 7,500 level to fresh all-time highs, ignoring the broadly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday. The market is boosted by gold miners, financial and technology stocks following the Afterpay deal announcement. Traders remain concerned amid the rapid spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants in New South Wales.

New South Wales reported 209 new cases and Victoria recorded two new cases on Sunday. Victoria and Queensland ended their lockdown last week, while the NSW lockdown was extended until end of the month.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 108.40 points or 1.46 percent to 7,500.40, after touching a high of 7,506.30. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 97.70 points or 1.28 percent to 7,761.90. Australian stocks closed modestly lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Mineral Resources are losing more than 2 percent each, while OZ Minerals is lower by almost 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is down more than 3 percent and Rio Tinto is declining more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are higher, with Origin Energy adding almost 3 percent, Woodside Petroleum edging up 0.4 percent and Beach energy rising almost 1 percent. Oil Search is gaining almost 6 percent and Santos is up almost 1 percent after a merger between ASX energy giants Santos and Oil Search is back on the cards, with Santos returning to the bargaining table with an improved offer.

Among tech stocks, Appen is adding almost 5 percent, Xero is gaining almost 3 percent and WiseTech Global is up more than 3 percent. Shares in Afterpay are soaring more than 23 percent after US fintech firm Square agreed to purchase the Australian buy now/pay later giant in an all-stock deal worth about $29 billion.

Gold miners are lower. Evolution Mining and Gold Road Resources are gaining more than 3 percent each, while Northern Star Resources and Resolute Mining are up almost 2 percent each. Newcrest Mining is adding more than 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are gaining more than 1 percent each. National Australia Bank is adding almost 2 percent.

In other news, Vulcan Energy Resources has inked a five-year deal with Renault SA to supply 6,000 to 17,000 tonnes of lithium annually. The stock is up almost 3 percent.

Shares in Peter Thiel-backed Bionomics are gaining more than 3 percent after reports that the anxiety medication maker is considering a US listing on the Nasdaq.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in July, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed on Monday with a manufacturing PMI score of 56.9. That's down from 58.6 in June, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The latest survey from the Australian Industry Group also showed that the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in July, although at a slower rate, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 60.8. That's down from 63.2 in June, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.734 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is sharply higher on Monday, recouping most of the losses of the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 adding more than 450 points to be above the 27,700 level, ignoring the broadly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday, as traders are reacting positively to upbeat manufacturing data. However, the upside is limited amid continued concerns about the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variants and the resultant state of emergencies.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,742.28, up 458.69 points or 1.68 percent, after touching a high of 27,773.30 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply lower on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 2 percent and Toyota is adding almost 2 percent.

The major exporters are higher, with Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric gaining more than 2 percent, while Sony is adding almost 1 percent and Canon is up more than 3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining almost 2 percent, while Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are adding almost 3 percent each. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are edging up 0.3 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is gaining almost 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Toto and Mitsui OSK Lines are gaining more than 8 percent each, while Ajinomoto and NGK Insulators are adding almost 8 percent each. Seiko Epson is rising more than 6 percent, while Nippon Yusen K.K., Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Japan Steel Works are up almost 6 percent. Nippon Steel and Denso are higher by more than 5 percent each, while NEC, Toyota Tsusho and Toyo Seikan Group Holdings are adding almost 5 percent.

Conversely, Mazda Motor is losing almost 6 percent, while West Japan Railway and Daiichi Sankyo are down almost 4 percent. OKUMA, Nomura Holdings and East Japan Railway are declining almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in July, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed on Monday, with a manufacturing PMI score of 53.0. That's up from 52.4 in June, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 109 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, China is gaining 1.3 percent and Hong Kong is adding 1.1 percent, while New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. Singapore is bucking the trend and is down 0.2 percent. Malaysia is flat.

On Wall Street, stocks remained mostly lower over the course of the session on Friday after coming under pressure at the start of trading. With the pullback on the day, the major averages offset the strength seen in the previous session.

The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory. The Dow fell 149.06 points or 0.4 percent to 34,935.47, the Nasdaq slid 105.59 points or 0.7 percent to 14,672.68 and the S&P 500 dropped 23.89 points or 0.5 percent to 4,395.26.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher Friday amid hopes energy demand will grow faster than supply despite the resurgence in coronavirus infections across the globe. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for September ended up by $0.33 or 0.5 percent at $73.95 a barrel. WTI Crude futures gained 2.6 percent in the week and 0.7 percent in July.

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