Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Economic Optimism

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Friday, ignoring the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders remain cautiously optimistic about the pace of the global economic recovery from the pandemic on upbeat weekly jobs data from the U.S. Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday.

Traders were also reacting to the European Central Bank’s latest monetary policy decision, as the bank announced it would slow the pace of asset purchases under its pandemic emergency purchase program.

Meanwhile, traders remain concerned about the impact of the rapid spread of the delta variant of in the region and in several countries, particularly in the U.S., which continues to stifle economic activity.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Friday, recouping some of the sharp losses in the previous session, with the S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,400 level, ignoring the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, boosted by gains across all sectors on reports that most regions in Victoria exited lockdown with Melbourne and Sydney expected to the extended lockdown in the coming weeks.

However, the country continues to struggle to contain the domestic situation, primarily in New South Wales and Victoria. NSW has reported 1,542 new local cases of COVID-19 and nine deaths on Thursday. Victoria recorded 334 new locally acquired cases and one death, with active cases now totalling 2,426 across the state.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 18.50 points or 0.25 percent to 7,388.00, after touching a high of 7,430.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 29.30 points or 0.38 percent to 7,688.20. Australian markets ended sharply lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Tinto are edging up 0.5 percent each, while Mineral Resources is gaining more than 3 percent, OZ Minerals is adding more than 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is up more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are higher. Beach energy is gaining 1.5 percent, Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.2 percent and Origin Energy is rising more than 1 percent. Oil Search is up almost 3 percent and Santos is adding more than 1 percent after the two finalized a merger deal that will create a business valued at $21 billion.

Among tech stocks, Xero is gaining almost 1 percent and Appen is edging up 0.4 percent, while WiseTech Global and Afterpay are flat.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are edging up 0.4 percent each, while Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are gaining almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are higher. Newcrest Mining, Gold Road Resources, Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Resolute Mining is edging up 0.5 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.738 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading significantly higher on Friday, recouping the losses in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 moving above the 30,300 level as traders remain optimistic that a new government will implement new economic measures to alleviate the prolonged impact of the pandemic. Japan also set out a pandemic exit strategy for those with vaccine certificates.

However, the nation continues its struggle to contain the domestic infection rates, with COVID-19 state of emergency extended in Tokyo and 18 other prefectures until the end of this month, beyond the currently scheduled expiration on Sunday. The state of emergency is currently in place in 21 of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

The Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 30,347.41, up 339.22 points or 1.13 percent, after touching a high of 30,351.06 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is flat. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are edging up 0.4 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining more than 1 percent, Screen Holdings is adding more than 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is up more than 2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Mizuho Financial is edging up 0.4 percent.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric is flat, while Panasonic is gaining more than 2 percent, is adding more than 1 percent and Canon is up almost 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Nikon is gaining 4.5 percent, while Seiko Epson and Shiseido
are adding 3.5 percent each. DeNA, Pacific Metals and NEC are up more than 3 percent each, while Sekisui House, Sumco and Fujikura are higher by 2.5 percent each.

Conversely, Eisai is losing almost 9 percent, NEXON is down almost 8 percent, Tokyo Electric Power is lower by almost 6 percent and Tokuyama is declining more than 2 percent.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is gaining 1.5 percent, while Singapore, China, Taiwan and South Korea are higher by between 0.4 and 0.8 percent each. New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia are relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower over the course of the trading session on Thursday after failing to sustain an early move to the upside. The major averages pulled back well off their early highs and into negative territory.

The major averages all finished the day in the red, with the Dow and the S&P 500 closing lower for the fourth straight session. The Dow fell 151.69 points or 0.4 percent to 34,879.38, the Nasdaq dipped 38.38 points or 0.3 percent to 15,248.25 and the S&P 500 slid 20.79 points or 0.5 percent to 4,493.28.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance following the ECB announcement. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled sharply lower Thursday, weighed down by reports that China is looking to release some crude stock from its national reserve. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for October ended down by $1.16 or 1.7 percent at $68.14 a barrel.

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