(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly trading higher on Friday, with the overnight gains on Wall Street and the European Central Bank's stimulus announcements lifting sentiment. However, gains are just modest in most of the markets in the region, with investors looking ahead to the crucial U.S. monthly jobs report, due later in the day.
In the Australian market, financial, property trusts, information technology and energy stocks are among the prominent gainers.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 34.8 points or 0.6 percent at 5,471.7. The broader All Ordinaries index is at 5,451.4, up 31.7 points or 0.6 percent from its previous close.
In the banking space, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are trading higher by 1 to 1.5 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are advancing 1.3 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are trading flat. Fortescue Metals is declining 2.5 percent, while Newcrest Mining is moving up 2.5 percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Oil Search, Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are up 0.5 to 1.5 percent.
Henderson Group, Macquarie Group, Arrium and WorleyParsons are moving up 2 to 3 percent. REA Group, Brambles, Computershare, ResMed Inc ( RMD ), AMP, Lend Lease Group, Regis Resources and Tabcorp Holdings are advancing 1.3 to 1.7 percent.
On the economic front, the Australian construction sector continued to decline in May, although at a slower pace, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed on Friday with a score of 46.7.
That's up from 45.9 in April, although it remains below the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction in a sector. In all, the sector has been in contraction for five straight months.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher against the U.S. dollar. The local unit is currently trading at US$0.9331, up 0.5 percent from Thursday's close of US$0.9282.
The Japanese market opened slightly higher, with the overnight gains on Wall Street and the European Central Bank's decision on fresh stimulus aiding sentiment.
However, with investors turning cautious, choosing to wait for the crucial U.S. jobs data due later in the day, the market pared its early gains and is currently down marginally.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 2.3 points at 15,077.1 at the end of the morning session, after having advanced to 15,144.3 earlier.
Sumco Corp. shares jumped nearly 9 percent following media reports the company's plants are working at full capacity. Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. shares moved up 3.3 percent following a rating upgrade.
GS Yuasa Corp., Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Sharp Corp., Showa Denko KK, Mitsumi Electric, Kubota Corp., Furukawa and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. surged up 2 to 3.5 percent.
Sekisui House rose 2 percent on higher earnings, but pared some gains subsequently. Sumitomo Chemical, JTEKT Corp., Sony Financial Holdings, Sojitz Corp., Dowa Holdings, MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Asahi Kasei Corp. and Resona Holdings also posted notable gains.
Meanwhile, Nisshin Seifun Group Inc. lost over 2 percent. Minebea Co., Asahi Group Holdings, Denso Corp., Nippon Express, Fanuc Corp., Taiyo Yuden, Seven & I Holdings, Suzuki Motor, Nissan Motor and Marui Group were down 1 to 2 percent at the break.
On the economic front, Japan will release preliminary April numbers for its leading and coincident indexes. The leading index is expected to show a score of 106.2, down from 107.1 in March. The coincident is called at 110.8, down from 114.5 in the previous month.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid 102 yen- range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 102.35 to the U.S. dollar, compared to Thursday's close of 102.53 yen per dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand and Taiwan are up in positive territory, while Shanghai, Malaysia and South Korea are trading weak.
On Wall Street, stocks ended notably higher on Thursday, as investors reacted positively to new stimulus measures announced by the European Central Bank, which cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.15 percent and lowered its deposit rate to negative 0.1 percent.
The Dow climbed 98.6 points or 0.6 percent to 16,836.1, the Nasdaq jumped 44.6 points or 1.1 percent to 4,296.2 and the S&P 500 advanced 12.6 points or 0.7 percent to 1,940.5.
Major European markets ended mixed on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX index inched up by 0.2 percent and the French CAC 40 index closed up 1.1 percent.
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