Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Friday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street on prospects of a strong global economic recovery after data showed improvement in manufacturing and jobless claims in the US. However, the surge in the delta variant of the coronavirus cases and travel curbs in several countries are capping the gains. Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday.

Australian stock market is modestly higher on Friday, recouping some of the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,300 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors are also optimistic as restrictions were slightly eased following several outbreaks of the coronavirus Delta variant across the country.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 33.40 points or 0.46 percent to 7,299.00, after touching a high of 7,312.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 35.60 points or 0.47 percent to 7,577.10. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group, Fortescue Metals and OZ Minerals are edging up 0.3 percent each, while Mineral Resources is gaining almost 2 percent. Rio Tinto is losing almost 1 percent.

Oil stocks are higher after crude oil prices climbed overnight. Oil Search is gaining more than 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are adding almost 2 percent each. Beach energy and Origin Energy are flat.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay is losing more than 1 percent, WiseTech Global is down almost 2 percent and Appen is declining almost 1 percent. Xero is edging up 0.2 percent.

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

Westpac has committed to reimburse around $87 million to 32,000 customers whose financial advisers failed to notify them of commercial information between 2005 and 2019.

Gold miners are mostly lower. Evolution Mining is edging down 0.3 percent, Resolute Mining is losing almost 3 percent and Newcrest Mining is down almost 1 percent. Northern Star Resources is flat. Gold Road Resources is edging up 0.5 percent.

In other news, shares in IDP Education are surging almost 19 percent after it agreed to acquire 100% of the British Council’s Indian International English Language Testing System (BC IELTS India) operations for 130 million British pounds or A$240 million on a debt free, cash free basis. India is BC IELTS’ largest market.

Suncorp confirmed it will sell its 50 percent stake in RACT Insurance to its joint-venture partner, the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania, for $83.75 million as it seeks to slim down its portfolio. The stock is gaining more than 1 percent.

In economic news, the total value of overall home loans in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 4.9 percent on month in May, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Friday, standing at A$32.56 billion, after a 3.7 percent rise in April. The value of new loan commitments for owner occupier housing reached another all-time high in May, up 1.9 percent to A$23.44 billion. New loan commitments for investors rose 13.3 percent to A$9.13 billion, which is the highest level since mid-2017.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.746 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Friday, snapping four straight sessions of losses, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 above the 28,800 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Traders are upbeat following the prospects of a strong global economic recovery after data showed improvement in manufacturing and jobless claims in the US.

However, the signs of resurgence in the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 and the news of another impending State of Emergency in Tokyo and other major areas are capping the gains.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,791.10, up 84.06 points or 0.29 percent, after touching a high of 28,849.32 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 1 percent and Toyota is adding more than 1 percent.

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

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric is gaining more than 2 percent, Sony is adding almost 4 percent, Canon is edging up 0.3 percent and Panasonic is up almost 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Mazda Motor is gaining more than 6 percent and Nissan Motor is adding more than 3 percent, while Nippon Suisan Kaisha and Isuzu Motors are up 2.5 percent each. Inpex and Suzuki Motor are gaining more than 2 percent each. ANA Holdings, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings, Mitsubishi Motors, Dai Nippon Printing, Tokyo Tatemono and Yokogawa Electric are all adding almost 2 percent.

Conversely, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is losing almost 3 percent, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is down more than 2 percent and Nippon Yusen K.K. is declining almost 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 111 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea are all higher by between 0.1 and 0.5 percent each. Hong Kong and China are plunging 1.7 percent each. New Zealand and Malaysia are flat.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a mixed performance for a large chunk of the trading session on Thursday but managed to close mostly higher. With the upward move on the day, the S&P 500 reached another new record closing high.

The major averages all closed in positive territory, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq inched up just 18.42 points or 0.1 percent to 14,522.38. The Dow rose 131.02 points or 0.4 percent to 34,633.53 and the S&P 500 climbed 22.44 points or 0.5 percent to 4,319.94.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil futures settled sharply higher on Thursday amid optimism about the strong outlook for energy demand. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August ended up by $1.76 or about 2.4% at $75.23 a barrel.

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