(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly trading in positive territory on Friday, tracking cues from Wall Street where the major averages surged higher overnight on the back of upbeat jobs data. Though some of the markets are off their early highs, the mood is fairly positive in the region amid renewed optimism about the global economy.
In the Australian market, consumer discretionary, mining and telecommunications stocks are among the notable gainers. Energy, financial and healthcare stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which advanced to 5,365.3 in early trades, is currently trading at 5,331.5, up 4.3 points from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 6.3 points at 5,331.7, well off the day's high of 5,362.5.
Bluescope Steel, Twenty-First Century Fox and Henderson Group are trading higher by 1.7 to 2 percent. Newcrest Mining, Mineral Resources, GPT Group, ResMed Inc. ( RMD ) and Navitas are up 1 to 1.4 percent.
Meanwhile, Metcash, James Hardie Industries, Orora, Investa Office Fund, Incitec Pivot and Macquarie Group are trading weak, losing 1.5 to 3 percent.
Dexus Property Group, Recall Holdings, Flight Centre Travel Group, Aristocrat Leisure and Aurora Oil & Gas are also trading weak.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened weak against the U.S. dollar. Around noon, the local unit was quoting at US$0.8890, down more than 0.2 percent from its previous close of US$0.8914.
After edging higher in early trades, the Japanese market retreated amid the release of a raft of economic data. Some profit taking after recent strong gains too contributed to the market's decline.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which moved up to 16,232.7 in early trades, tumbled to 16,068.9 subsequently and was down 51.4 points or 0.3 percent at 16,123 at the end of the morning session.
Shares of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. were down more than 5 percent following the company scrapping development of a diabetes drug after failing to show that the medicine's benefits outweighed its risks.
Fast Retailing, Ube Industries, Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, Alps Electric, Taiyo Yuden and Terumo Corp. lost 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
Nippon Paper Industries, Showa Shell Sekiyu KK, Furukawa Electric, Mitsui Chemicals, Sony Corp. ( SNE ), Fanuc Corp., Advantest Corp. ( ATE ), Mitsumi Electric and JGC Corp. were also trading notably lower at the break.
Meanwhile, Nippon Suisan Kaisha, JFE Holdings Inc., Sumitomo Realty & Development, J Front Retailing and Denso Corp. gained 2 to 2.6 percent.
Softbank Corp., Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Mitsui OSK Lines, Kobe Steel, Fujitsu, Toho Co., Inpex Corp., Unitika, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Seven & I Holdings, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Fujifilm Holdings and Kansai Electric Power also posted strong gains.
On the economic front, industrial output in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in November compared to the previous month, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in Friday's preliminary reading. That missed forecasts for an increase of 0.4 percent following the 1.0 percent gain in October.
On a yearly basis, production climbed 5.0 percent - also shy of expectations for 5.4 percent, which would have been unchanged from the previous month. Upon the release of the data, the METI maintained its assessment of industrial production, saying that it continues to show upward movement.
According to another report from the same ministry, retail sales in Japan climbed 4.0 percent on year in November, coming in at 11.580 trillion yen. That beat forecasts for an increase of 3.0 percent following the 2.4 percent gain in October.
Sales from large retailers were up an annual 0.6 percent to 1.697 trillion yen - shy of expectations for an increase of 0.7 percent following the 0.1 percent decline in the previous month.
On a monthly basis, retail sales jumped 1.9 percent - beating forecasts for a gain of 1.0 percent after falling 0.9 percent in October.
The data also showed that wholesale sales gained 2.5 percent on year to 27.803 trillion yen, while commercial sales spiked an annual 3.0 percent to 39.383 trillion yen.
According to data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, consumer prices in Japan were up 1.5 percent on year in November, matching expectations and rising from 1.1 percent in October.
Core CPI was up 1.2 percent, exceeding forecasts for 1.1 percent and up from 0.9 percent in the previous month.
Consumer prices in the Tokyo region - considered a leading indicator for the nationwide trend - were up 0.9 percent on year in December, in line with expectations and unchanged from the November reading. Core CPI for Tokyo added 0.7 percent on year - also matching expectations and up from 0.6 percent in November.
Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent in November, unchanged from the previous month but missing forecasts for 3.9 percent, according to another data released by the Internal Affairs ministry.
Another data from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications showed that average household spending in Japan was up 0.2 percent on year in November, coming in at 279,546 yen. That was well shy of forecasts for an increase of 1.8 percent following the 0.9 percent gain in October. Household spending was down 0.3 percent on month.
The average of monthly income per household stood at 436,293 yen, down 1.1 percent on year. The average of consumption expenditures per household was 300,994 yen, down 1.6 percent on year.
In the currency market, the yen is trading at 104.80 against the U.S. dollar, after falling to 105.01 earlier in the day.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Shanghai and Singapore are trading notably higher. South Korea and Hong Kong are up with modest gains, while New Zealand is down marginally.
On Wall Street, stocks ended mostly higher on Thursday, benefiting from a positive reaction to upbeat jobs data. The major averages all ended the day in positive territory, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new record closing highs.
The Dow jumped 122.3 points or 0.8 percent to 16,479.9, the Nasdaq rose 11.8 points or 0.3 percent to 4,167.2 and the S&P 500 climbed 8.7 points or 0.5 percent to 1,842.
Major European markets were closed on Thursday for Boxing Day holiday.
U.S. crude ended higher on Thursday amid fears of disruptions in supply from South Sudan. Crude for February delivery ended up 33 cents at $99.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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