Asian stock markets are mostly in positive territory on Monday, tracking the record closing highs on Wall Street Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the strength of the U.S. economic expansion justified gradual interest rate hikes. In addition, higher commodity prices boosted resources stocks.
At the Jackson Hole Symposium in Wyoming, Powell said, “As the most recent FOMC statement indicates, if the strong growth in income and jobs continues, further gradual increases in the target range for the federal funds rate will likely be appropriate.”
The Australian market is edging higher after a weak start despite the positive cues from Wall Street and higher commodity prices. Weakness in banking and healthcare stocks was offset by gains in resources stocks. Investors also digested disappointing corporate earnings results.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 2.70 points or 0.04 percent to 6,250.00, after touching a low of 6,230.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 4.50 points or 0.07 percent to 6,362.40.
In the mining space, BHP Billiton is rising 0.7 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are advancing almost 1 percent each.
Gold miners are advancing after gold prices surged higher on Friday. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is higher by more than 4 percent.
Oil stocks are mostly higher after crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Friday. Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent and Santos is adding 0.2 percent, while Oil Search is down 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the big four banks – Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking – are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent.
Reliance Worldwide reported a full-year profit that was flat with last year and said it expects the integration of John Guest to now result in higher annual cost savings. The plumbing supplies giant’s shares are losing more than 8 percent.
Michael Hill International recorded an 86 percent fall in full-year profit on costs related to exiting the U.S. market and closure of most of its Emma and Roe stores. The jewelry store chain’s shares are declining more than 3 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at US$0.7340, up from US$0.7284 on Friday.
The Japanese market is advancing for a fifth straight session following the gains on Wall Street Friday. Exporters are higher despite a stronger yen.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 179.95 points or 0.80 percent to 22,781.72, off a high of 22,782.67 earlier.
Among the major exporters, Sony is higher by more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is rising almost 1 percent and Canon is up 0.5 percent, while Panasonic is edging down less than 0.1 percent.
In the auto space, Toyota is advancing almost 2 percent and Honda is adding more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are rising 0.3 percent each.
Among oil stocks, Inpex is down 0.3 percent, while Japan Petroleum is adding 0.6 percent after crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Friday.
Among the major gainers, Taiyo Yuden, IHI Corp. and Tokai Carbon are all rising more than 3 percent each.
On the flip side, Casio Computer is declining more than 2 percent, while Yamaha Corp. and FamilyMart UNY Holdings are lower by more than 1 percent each.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 111 yen-range on Monday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher, while South Korea is edging lower.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell reiterated the Fed’s stance that further gradual increases in interest rates will likely be appropriate if the strong growth in income and jobs continues.
The Dow rose 133.37 points or 0.5 percent to 25,790.35, the Nasdaq advanced 67.52 points or 0.9 percent to 7,945.98 and the S&P 500 climbed 17.71 points or 0.6 percent to 2,874.69.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. The French CAC 40 Index, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index all rose by 0.2 percent.
Crude oil prices moved higher on Friday, lifted by a report showing a drop in U.S. oil rig count and on U.S. sanctions against Iran that are set to come into force early November. WTI crude added $0.89 or 1.3 percent to close at $68.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTTNews Staff Writer
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