(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Friday following the overnight rally on Wall Street amid renewed hopes of tax reform in the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated that the Trump administration plans to unveil a major tax reform plan "very soon".
Investors also continued to keep an eye on developments in France following news that a policeman was shot dead in Paris in a suspected terrorist attack just days before the presidential election.
The Australian market is adding to the gains in the previous session, following the overnight rally on Wall Street and higher iron ore prices.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 33.40 points or 0.57 percent to 5,854.80, off a high of 5,870.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 31.10 points or 0.53 percent to 5,885.50.
The major iron ore miners are notably higher after iron ore prices rebounded to the $65 mark. BHP Billiton is advancing almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is rising more than 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is gaining almost 5 percent.
In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are advancing in a range of 0.7 percent to 1.4 percent.
Oil stocks are also mostly higher despite crude oil prices falling for a fourth straight session overnight. Oil Search is rising almost 1 percent and Santos is adding 0.6 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is losing more than 1 percent.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining is edging down less than 0.1 percent, while Evolution Mining is adding 1 percent as gold prices were flat overnight.
Energy company Duet Group said it has been advised by Chueng Kong Infrastructure Holdings that the Australian government has approved the Hong Kong company's A$5.5 billion consortium-led takeover bid. Duet Group's shares are rising more than 9 percent.
Coca-Cola Amatil's shares are losing almost 9 percent after the company said it expects underlying profit for the first half of 2017 to decline following lower-than-expected trading in its Australian beverages unit.
Woolworths can proceed with the sale of Masters' property assets without the consent of its former joint venture partner Lowe's as an award in confidential arbitration indicates that Lowe's must sell its 33 per cent stake in the failed Masters stores. However, Woolworths' shares are declining 0.5 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7528, up from US$0.7520 on Thursday.
The Japanese market is notably higher, with the positive lead from Wall Street and a weaker yen bolstering investor sentiment.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 145.20 points or 0.79 percent to 18,575.69, off a high of 18,591.82 earlier.
The major exporters are advancing on a weaker yen. Toshiba is rising 3 percent, Panasonic is advancing almost 2 percent and Sony is adding 0.2 percent. Canon is edging up less than 0.1 percent.
Automakers Toyota and Honda are rising more than 1 percent each. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are also gaining more than 1 percent each.
In the oil space, Inpex is up 0.4 percent and JXTG Holdings is advancing more than 1 percent despite lower crude oil prices overnight.
Daiwa Securities Group will buy a 15 percent stake in COL Financial Group, the largest online securities company in the Philippines, for about 3 billion yen. Shares of Daiwa are adding almost 1 percent.
Sawai Pharmaceutial said it will buy the generics business of U.S. drug maker Upsher-Smith Laboratories for $1.05 billion. Shares of Sawai Pharma are advancing almost 2 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Taiheiyo Cement and Sumitomo Osaka Cement are rising more than 4 percent each, while Asahi Glass is advancing 4 percent. On the flip side, Fujifilm Holdings is losing almost 4 percent, Yaskawa Electric is down almost 3 percent and Rakuten is declining more than 2 percent.
In economic news, the latest survey from Nikkei showed the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in April, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.8. That's up from 52.4 in March, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 109 yen-range.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are also higher.
On Wall Street, stocks rallied on Thursday, partly due to the positive reaction to the latest batch of earnings news. Positive sentiment was also generated by comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who indicated the Trump administration plans to unveil a major tax reform plan "very soon".
The Dow advanced 174.22 points or 0.9 percent to 20,578.71, the Nasdaq jumped 53.74 points or 0.9 percent to 5,916.78 and the S&P 500 climbed 17.67 points or 0.8 percent to 2,355.84.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both crept up by 0.1 percent.
Crude oil futures fell for a fourth straight session Thursday, but held above the psychologically important $50 mark. June WTI oil settled at $50.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down $0.14, or 0.3 percent.
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