Asian Markets Trading Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Monday, following the positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, as traders react to better than expected employment data from the U.S. and the spike in crude oil prices. The upbeat jobs data added to optimism about the outlook for the economy despite lingering concerns about supply chain issues and rising inflation. Asian markets closed mostly lower on Friday.

The Australian stock market is slightly lower in choppy trading on Monday, shedding some of the gains in the previous three sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,400 level, despite the positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, as gains in the mining and energy stocks were more than offset by weakness in technology stocks.

Meanwhile, the domestic coronavirus situation is also still grim, particularly in Victoria, even though the lockdowns have been lifted and borders are open. Victoria recorded 1,126 new locally acquired cases and five deaths on Sunday, with the total active cases of COVID-19 across Victoria standing at 16,178. NSW reported only 187 new locally acquired cases and seven deaths.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 5.20 points or 0.07 percent to 7,451.70, after hitting a low of 7,433.40 and a high of 7,474.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 10.80 points or 0.14 percent to 7,766.40. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Friday.

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

BHP is selling its 80 per cent stake in a Queensland metallurgical coal joint venture to Stanmore Resources for up to $1.6 bln as the mining company continues its retreat from fossil fuels.

Oil stocks are higher, with Oil Search gaining more than 2 percent, while Santos, Beach energy and Woodside Petroleum are adding almost 3 percent each. Origin Energy is edging down 0.4 percent.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay and WiseTech Global are losing almost 2 percent each, while Appen is declining more than 2 percent and Xero sliding almost 3 percent.

Gold miners are higher. Resolute Mining and Evolution Mining are adding more than 5 percent each, Northern Star Resources is gaining 3.5 percent, Newcrest Mining is up 1.5 percent and Gold Road Resources is rising more than 2 percent.

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

Shares in Sydney Airport are rising almost 3 percent after the country’s biggest airport agreed to a $17.5 billion takeover bid by a consortium led by the superannuation fund-backed IFM Investors following four weeks of due diligence and negotiations.

Other travel stocks are also rising, with Flight Centre gaining almost 5 percent, Webjet adding more than 3 percent and Qantas rising more than 4 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.740 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is slightly lower on Monday after being in the green at start, extending the modest losses in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 just below the 29,600 level, despite the positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, with traders somewhat upbeat after the new government unveiled a spending plan to revive the economy from the coronavirus pandemic. However, they are expecting a stimulus package in the form of cash handouts.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,590.57, down 21.00 points or 0.07 percent, after hitting a low of 29,518.20 earlier. Japanese shares ended modestly lower on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is declining almost 3 percent, while Toyota is edging up 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging up 0.5 percent, Screen Holdings is gaining almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is up 1.5 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining almost 1 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are edging up 0.4 percent each.

The major exporters are mostly lower, with Panasonic edging down 0.4 percent and Sony losing more than 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are edging up 0.3 percent each.

Among the other major losers, JFE Holdings is plunging more than 11 percent, GS Yuasa is declining almost 10 percent, Kubota is losing more than 7 percent, Shionogi & Co. is down 5.5 percent and Mitsui E&S Holdings is sliding almost 5 percent, while Chugai Pharmaceutical and Nippon Suisan Kaisha are slipping almost 4 percent each.

Conversely, Olympus and IHI are gaining more than 6 percent each, while Itochu is adding 5.5 percent. ANA Holding is up more than 4 percent, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines are rising almost 4 percent each. Nippon Yusen K.K., NSK and Nikon are advancing more than 3 percent each, while Takashimaya, J. Front Retailing, Toto, Ricoh and Central Japan Railway are up almost 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 113 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.6 percent each. South Korea is down 1 percent, while New Zealand and Hong Kong are losing 0.1 and 0.4 percent, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated after an early move to the upside during trading on Friday but managed to remain mostly positive throughout the session. The major averages extended a recent upward trend, reaching new record closing highs.

The major averages all finished the day in positive territory. The Dow climbed 203.72 points or 0.6 percent to 36,327.95, the Nasdaq edged up 31.28 points or 0.2 percent to 15,971.59 and the S&P 500 rose 17.47 points or 0.4 percent to 4,697.53.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices showed a strong move to the upside Friday as traders continued to digest news that OPEC and its allies decided to stick with a plan to raise oil output modestly and gradually. West Texas Intermediate Crude for December delivery jumped $2.46 or 3.1 percent to $81.27 a barrel.

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