(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are trading higher on Monday, tracking the positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, where the S&P 500 index closed at a new record high and the Nasdaq reached its best levels since 2000.
Weaker than forecast U.S. consumer confidence data has raised expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain its asset purchase program at the end of its two-day policy meeting later in the week on Wednesday.
The Australian stock market is trading higher, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index trading at a new five-year high. The S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 66.10 points or 1.23 percent to 5,452.40 after opening at 5,386.30. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 63.10 points or 1.17 percent to 5,448.80.
Among the major banks, ANZ Banking Group is advancing 1.6 percent, while National Australia Bank is gaining more than 2 percent, Commonwealth Bank is adding 1.1 percent and Westpac (WBK) is gaining 1.5 percent. The major banks are slated to announce their earnings reports over the next two weeks.
According to the Australian Financial Review, Future Fund executive David Gonski is being head-hunted by the ANZ Banking Group to be its next chairman.
The major miners are trading higher following strong production reports released recently by them. BHP Billiton (BHP) is up 1.3 percent, Rio Tinto (RIO) is gaining 1.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is trading higher by more than 3 percent.
Blood products and vaccines maker CSL is gaining more than 2.5 percent.
Superannuation and insurance company AMP said it expects earnings for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2013 to be negatively impacted by up to A$65 million due to the poor performance of its wealth protection business. However, the company's stock is adding 0.31 percent.
Construction and maintenance group Transfield Services said it remains confident of attaining its profit target amid cost-cutting and debt reduction measures. The company's shares are gaining almost 3 percent.
Canadian dairy giant Saputo has sweetened its offer for Warrnambool Cheese and Butter to A$449 million, saying that its acquisition of Warrnambool will not reduce competition. However, shares of Warrnambool are trading lower by 1.4 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower against the U.S. dollar amid liquidity fears about the Chinese banking system. In early trades on Monday, the local unit was trading at US$0.9588, down from US$0.9605 on Friday.
The Japanese market is trading in positive territory, tracking the gains on Wall Street last Friday and a weaker yen.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is currently adding 111.58 points or 0.79 percent to 14,199.77, after opening higher by 173 points to 14,261.65. The Nikkei index had closed lower by 2.8 percent at 14,088 on Friday.
Mitsubishi Motors said it plans to raise about $2 billion in a public share offering as early as January. The company's shares are advancing 2.61 percent. Among other automakers, Toyota ( TM ) is adding 0.81 percent and Honda Motor is gaining 0.52 percent.
Among other export-oriented stocks, Canon Inc. ( CAJ ) is advancing 1.6 percent and Komatsu is gaining 1.5 percent. Hitachi is up more than 3 percent.
JFE Holdings reported a group net profit of 47.79 billion yen for the first half of the fiscal year and also maintained its full-year guidance of 170 billion yen. However, the company's shares are losing more than 2.8 percent.
Telecommunications company KDDI is gaining 1.8 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the company will likely report a 50 percent year-over-year increase in group operating profit to about 340 billion yen for the April-September period.
Meanwhile, the Nikkei business daily also reported that TDK will likely report an 8 percent increase in operating profit to about 12 billion yen for the April-September period. The company's shares are down 0.24 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 97 yen-range on Monday. In early trades, the dollar was quoted in a range of 97.53-97.56 yen, up 0.52 yen from Friday's close of 97.01-97.03 yen in Tokyo.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore, Shanghai, Seoul, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Jakarta are trading higher in a range of 0.10 percent to 0.71 percent, while Malaysia is trading in negative territory. The New Zealand market is closed on Monday in observance of the Labor Day holiday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday, extending the upward trend seen throughout the past two weeks. The strength on Wall Street was partly due to a positive reaction to the latest earnings reports, which have drawn increased attention since the end of the government shutdown.
The gains lifted the S&P 500 to a new record closing high, while the Nasdaq once again reached its best levels since 2000. The Dow rose 61.07 points or 0.4 percent to 15,570.28, the Nasdaq climbed 14.40 points or 0.4 percent to 3,943.36 and the S&P 500 advanced 7.70 points or 0.4 percent to 1,759.77.
Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both inched up by 0.1 percent.
U.S. crude oil settled higher for a second straight session Friday, mostly on bargain hunting as reports filtered in that Saudi Arabia is cutting down oil shipments due to increased global supplies and on demand growth hopes after China's upbeat manufacturing data Thursday.
Crude oil futures for December delivery, the most actively traded contract, gained $0.74 or 0.8 percent to close at $97.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday.
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