Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Monday, following the mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday as traders are optimistic about a faster pace of the global economic recovery on better than expected US jobs data. However, the upside is limited amid continued concerns about the rapid spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variants in the region. Asian markets closed mixed on Friday.

Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicated further progress was needed in labor market recovery before the central would consider scaling back stimulus.

The Australian stock market is slightly higher on Monday, extending the gains of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 above the 7,500 level near all-time highs, following the mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday as better than expected US jobs data added to economic optimism. The market is also upbeat after the government races to boost vaccinations in its bid to contain the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variants, primarily in New South Wales.

The RBA Governor Philip Lowe also signalled a willingness to respond if the Covid-19 situation worsens. NSW reported 283 new locally acquired cases on Sunday, down from the record 319 cases reported on Saturday. Victoria also recorded 11 new cases on Sunday.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 10.20 points or 0.14 percent to 7,548.60, after touching an all-time high of 7567.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 4.70 points or 0.06 percent to 7,811.20. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is edging up 0.2 percent and Mineral Resources is adding almost 1 percent, while Rio Tinto, OZ Minerals and Fortescue Metals are lower by almost 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are mixed. Oil Search, Beach energy and Woodside Petroleum are edging up 0.2 percent each, while Origin Energy is losing almost 1 percent. Santos are flat.

Among tech stocks, Appen is losing more than 2 percent, Afterpay is declining almost 2 percent and Xero is down almost 1 percent, while WiseTech Global is edging up 0.5 percent.

Gold miners are lower after gold prices plunged. Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent, Northern Star Resources is down almost 4 percent, Resolute Mining is lower by more than 4 percent, Newcrest Mining is slipping almost 3 percent and Gold Road Resources is plunging more than 6 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are gaining around 1.5 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is adding almost 2 percent.

Westpac the $900 million sale of its life insurance business to Japan’s Dai-ichi Life Holdings, the latest in a line of sales the bank has made recently to simplify operations.

In other news, shares in News Corp are down almost 8 percent as the media company lost almost all the 7.9 percent gains of Friday after it reported its most profitable quarter since its restructuring.

Shares in Suncorp are gaining almost 7 percent after the insurer lifted its final dividend to 40 cents per share, said it will also pay a special dividend of 8 cents per share and buyback $250 million shares after delivering a 42 percent rise in cash earnings for the full year.

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

The Japanese stock market is sharply closed for Mountain Day Holiday on Monday. Japanese shares ended modestly higher on Friday.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is gaining 1.1 percent, while New Zealand, China, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. Taiwan is bucking the trend and is down 0.3 percent. Singapore is closed for National Day holiday.

On Wall Street, the major U.S. indexes turned in a mixed performance during trading on Friday after ending the previous session on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Nasdaq pulled back of Yesterday’s record closing high, the Dow and S&P 500 reached new record closing highs.

The Nasdaq fell 59.36 points or 0.4 percent to 14,835.76, but the Dow climbed 144.26 points or 0.4 percent to 35,208.51 and the S&P 500 rose 7.42 points or 0.2 percent to 4,416.56.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index has climbed by 0.6 percent, the German DAX Index is up by 0.3 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures settled lower again on Friday as concerns about the outlook for global demand amid a surge in coronavirus infections overshadowed upbeat U.S. jobs data. West Texas Intermediate crude oil for September delivery slid $0.81 or 1.2 percent to $68.28 a barrel, plunging 7.7 percent for the week.

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