Asian Markets Advance On OPEC Deal, China PMI Data

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( - Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Thursday, with investor sentiment boosted by news that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries or OPEC reached a deal overnight to cut oil production for the first time in eight years.

Investors also cheered data that showed China's manufacturing sector continued to expand at faster rate in November. The National Bureau of Statistics said that China's manufacturing PMI score was 51.7 in November. That beat forecasts for 51.0 and was up from 51.2 in October.

The Australian market advanced as investors cheered the OPEC deal. Energy stocks are among the leading gainers.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is gaining almost 6 percent, Oil Search is surging almost 10 percent and Santos is rising more than 11 percent after crude oil prices jumped more than 9 percent overnight.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is rising almost 4 percent, Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 3 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.8 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miner Newcrest Mining is losing more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is falling 4 percent after gold prices slid overnight.

Luxury accessories retailer OrotonGroup reported an 8 percent decline in comparable store sales for the first seventeen weeks of fiscal 2017, but added that its strategy to focus on stand-alone retail stores was showing results. The company's shares are unchanged.

Nufarm said it is confident of solid earnings growth for the full year due to improved conditions in Australia and strong North American business in the first quarter. The pesticides and herbicides group's shares are rising almost 3 percent.

Shares of Downer EDI are also up almost 3 percent after the engineering group said it has won a A$1.7 billion contract from Transport for NSW for the design and maintenance of double-decker trains over a period of 25 years.

Vocus Communications will sell the remaining 50 percent stake in the Connect 8 fibre construction business to joint venture partner Spark New Zealand for an unspecified sum. The company's shares are losing more than 2 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that capital spending in Australia contracted a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2016, coming in at A$28.030 billion. That missed forecasts for a fall of 3.0 percent following the 5.2 percent decline in the three months prior.

The Australian Industry Group said that the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in November, and at an accelerated pace, thanks to a manufacturing PMI score of 54.2. That's up sharply from 50.9 in October, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7391, down from US$0.7474 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is notably higher, with the OPEC deal to cut oil production and a weaker yen boosting investor sentiment.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 352.62 points or 1.93 percent to 18,661.10, off a high of 18,663.29 earlier.

In the oil space, Inpex is surging almost 11 percent, Japan Petroleum Exploration is rising more than 13 percent and JX Holdings is gaining more than 7 percent.

Among the major exporters, Sony is down 0.5 percent, while Canon and Toshiba is adding more than 1 percent each. Panasonic is gaining more than 2 percent. Automaker Toyota is advancing almost 2 percent and Honda is rising more than 2 percent.

Fast Retailing and Softbank are rising almost 3 percent each. Among the other major gainers, JGC Corp. is rising more than 8 percent, while NTN Corp and Sumco Corp are higher by more than 7 percent each.

In economic news, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in November, although at a slightly slower pace, with a PMI score of 51.3. That's down marginally from 51.4 in October, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The Ministry of Finance said that capital spending in Japan was down 1.3 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2016. That missed expectations for a fall of 0.4 percent following the 3.1 percent gain in the three months prior.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 114 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are all in positive territory.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed in a volatile session on Wednesday as traders reacted to news of OPEC's agreement to cut oil production. The agreement marks the first time since 2008 that OPEC has agreed to curtail production and comes as a supply glut has weighed on prices.

While the Dow closed up just 1.98 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 19,123.58, the S&P 500 closed lower by 5.85 points or 0.3 percent to 2,198.81 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped 56.24 points or 1.1 percent to 5,323.68.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices surged on Wednesday following news of OPEC's agreement to cut production. WTI oil for January delivery spiked $4.21 or 9.3 percent to close at $49.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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