Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Thursday despite the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Optimism about a potential Brexit deal and hopes for economic recovery helped offset worries about the uncertainty regarding a U.S. coronavirus relief package. Trading activity in the Asian region remained subdued ahead of the Christmas holidays.
The Australian market is rising for the second straight day in an abbreviated trading session. The market will close early today for the Christmas holidays.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 35.50 points or 0.53 percent to 6,678.60, after rising to a high of 6,704.90. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 37.50 points or 0.54 percent to 6,930.10. Australian stocks notably on Wednesday to snap a three-day losing streak.
Oil stocks are notably higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Santos is higher by more than 2 percent, Woodside petroleum is advancing almost 2 percent and Oil Search is adding more than 1 percent.
The major miners are also higher. BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is adding 0.7 percent.
BHP Group said that its Samarco joint venture with Brazilian miner Vale in Brazil will restart mining, with the operations resuming five years after a dam collapsed and killed 19 people in Brazil’s biggest environmental disaster.
In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are advancing in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent.
Among tech stocks, Afterpay is rising more than 1 percent and Appen is adding 0.2 percent, while WiseTech Global is down 0.3 percent.
Meanwhile, gold miners are mixed even as gold prices rebounded overnight. Newcrest Mining is higher by 0.6 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.4 percent.
The Japanese market is advancing despite the mixed cues from Wall Street, while the yen weakened against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 155.02 points or 0.58 percent to 26,679.81, after climbing to a high of 26,764.53 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed modestly higher on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is declining almost 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding almost 2 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is lower by 0.5 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 0.2 percent.
The major exporters are mostly rising on a weaker yen. Canon is higher by more than 1 percent, Panasonic is advancing almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.7 percent, while Sony is lower by almost 1 percent.
Among automakers, Honda is rising more than 1 percent and Toyota is up almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is advancing more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding more than 1 percent.
Among the other major gainers, IHI Corp. is gaining almost 6 percent, Kawasaki Heavy Industries is rising more than 5 percent and Inpex is higher by more than 4 percent.
Conversely, Hino Motors is tumbling more than 7 percent and Kuraray Co. is losing almost 2 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 103 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher, while Shanghai, Indonesia and Malaysia are lower.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday after moving higher for much of the trading session. The late-day pullback may have reflected profit taking ahead of the upcoming holidays. Stocks initially benefited from a positive reaction a slew of U.S. economic data, including a report from the Labor Department showing a significant pullback in first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended December 19. Uncertainty about a coronavirus relief package approved by Congress also led to cautious trading after President Donald Trump slammed the bill as a “disgrace” in a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday.
While the Nasdaq fell 36.80 points or 0.3 percent to 12,771.11, the Dow rose 114.32 points or 0.4 percent to 30,129.83 and the S&P 500 inched up by 2.75 points or 0.1 percent to 3,690.01.
The major European markets moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index surged up by 1.1 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
Crude oil prices rose sharply on Wednesday, rebounding after posting losses in the previous two sessions, after data showed a drop in U.S. crude stockpiles. WTI crude for February ended higher by $1.10 or about 2.3 percent at $48.12 a barrel.
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