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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Monday, following the mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday, with crude oil prices providing support, even as traders continue to express concerns that the coronavirus situation in the region and other countries, particularly in the U.S., could dent the pace of global economic recovery from the pandemic. Asian markets closed mixed on Friday.

Traders also remained concerned about the uncertainty on the situation with China Evergrande, as the indebted property company has not provided clarification about its ability to pay interest on the dollar-denominated bonds.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Monday, recouping the modest losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 below the 7,400 level, following the mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday, with materials and energy stocks gaining as crude oil and Iron ore prices climbed. Sentiment was also lifted following the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions in most regional areas.

However, the precarious domestic coronavirus situation, primarily in New South Wales and Victoria, is also weighing in investor sentiment. NSW reported 787 new locally acquired cases and twelve deaths on Sunday. Victoria also recorded 705 new locally acquired cases and one death, with the total active cases of COVID-19 across Victoria standing at 8,538.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 55.10 points or 0.75 percent to 7,397.70, after touching a high of 7,416.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 55.90 points or 0.73 percent to 7,705.20. Australian stocks closed modestly lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and OZ Minerals are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is adding more than 2 percent. Fortescue Metals and Mineral Resources is surging more than 4 percent each.

Oil stocks are higher, with Origin Energy gaining more than 1 percent, Beach energy adding almost 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum higher by more than 3 percent, while Oil Search and Santos are up almost 2 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay, Xero and Appen are down almost 1 percent each, while WiseTech Global is losing more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are mixed. Evolution Mining is up 0.3 percent, while Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging up 0.5 percent each. Gold Road Resources is edging down 0.3 percent and Resolute Mining is declining almost 1 percent.

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

Travel stocks as also higher after the NSW government is set to potentially open international travel later this year. Qantas is gaining more than 3 percent, Webjet is adding more than 4 percent and Flight Centre is surging almost 8 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.728 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Monday, extending the sharp gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 staying above the 30,300 level, following the mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday, as traders are upbeat after news that Japan is looking to completely lift COVID-19 state of emergencies on Thursday as the fifth wave of coronavirus infections wanes.

Meanwhile, traders are concerned about the uncertainty on the situation with China Evergrande, as the indebted property company has not provided clarification about a key interest payment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 30,358.62, up 109.81 points or 0.36 percent, after touching a high of 30,414.61 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is adding almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 2 percent and Toyota is adding more than 2 percent.

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

The major exporters are higher, with Panasonic and Canon gaining almost 1 percent each, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are flat.

Among the other major gainers, Hitachi is gaining more than 5 percent, while Tokyo Electric Power, Inpex, Credit Saison and Takashimaya are adding almost 5 percent each. Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, East Japan Railway, Marui Group, Central Japan Railway, Resona Holdings and ANA Holdings are higher by more than 4 percent each, while West Japan Railway, J. Front Retailing and Mitsui E&S Holdings are up more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Tosoh and Daikin Industries are losing more than 3 percent each. Chugai Pharmaceutical and M3 are down almost 2 percent each.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore is gaining 1.3 percent, while New Zealand Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan are higher by between 0.2 and 0.8 percent each. Malaysia and China are bucking the trend and are down 0.4 and 0.2 percent, respectively. Indonesia is relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading session on Friday, after moving sharply higher for two straight days. The major averages spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages eventually ended the session narrowly mixed. While the Nasdaq edged down 4.55 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 15,047.70, the Dow crept up 33.18 points or 0.1 percent to 34,798.00 and the S&P 500 ticked up 6.50 points or 0.2 percent to 4,455.48.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1 percent, the German DAX Index fell by 0.7 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices climbed Friday and front-month WTI oil futures contracts saw gains for a fifth straight week amid tighter supplies. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for November rose $0.68 or 0.9 percent at 73.98 a barrel. WTI Crude futures gained 2.8 percent for the week.

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