(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Thursday amid improved risk appetite following the overnight rally on Wall Street after the U.S. midterm election results came largely in line with expectations. Democrats retook control of the House for the first time since 2010, while President Donald Trump'sRepublican Party tightened their hold on the Senate.
Investors now look ahead to the U.S.Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement due later today. The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, but investors will keep a close eye on the accompanying statement for clues about an expected rate hike in December.
The Australian market is rising, with stocks mostly higher across the board following the overnight gains on Wall Street. Mostly upbeat corporate earnings results also boosted investor sentiment.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 34.30 points or 0.58 percent to 5,931.20, off a high of 5,934.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 38.30 points or 0.64 percent to 6,020.30. Australian stocks eked out modest gains on Wednesday.
Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is rising more than 1 percent, BHP is advancing almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 0.2 percent.
BHP said it has secured a full participating interest in and operatorship of two exploration licenses for oil assets in offshore eastern Canada.
The big four banks - Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac - are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 1.3 percent.
Oil stocks are also rising despite crude oil prices falling to a nearly eight-month low. Santos is up 0.4 percent, Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.5 percent and Oil Search is adding more than 1 percent.
Meanwhile, gold miners are weak after gold prices retreated, but still closed higher overnight. Evolution Mining is declining more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 1 percent.
The ACCC has approved the merger of Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media, noting that while the merger will "likely reduce competition" in the Australian news content market, it is not likely to substantially lessen competition in any market in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act. Shares of Nine Entertainment are rising more than 1 percent, while those of Fairfax are gaining almost 2 percent.
News Corp. reported a 49 percent increase in its first-quarter profit on double-digit revenue growth. The media giant's shares are rising more than 4 percent.
REA Group, the owner of real estate portal realestate.com and majority owned by News Corp., said its first-quarter profit rose 23 percent on a 17 percent increase in revenue. Shares of the company are gaining 10 percent.
James Hardie Industries reported a 17 percent increase in first-half profit, but lowered its full-year operating profit outlook, citing uncertain conditions in its key U.S. market. The building products supplier's shares are losing more than 14 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7271, up from $0.7259 on Wednesday.
The Japanese market is rebounding following the gains on Wall Street and as a weaker yen boosted shares of exporters. Investors digested a raft of mixed local economic data, including core machine orders data for September that fell more than expectations.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 409.43 points or 1.85 percent to 22,495.23, after rising to a high of 22,583.43 earlier. Japanese shares ended a choppy session lower on Wednesday.
The major exporters are notably higher. Mitsubishi Electric is higher by more than 3 percent, Sony is gaining more than 2 percent, Panasonic is rising more than 1 percent and Canon is advancing almost 2 percent.
In the tech sector, Advantest is gaining more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding more than 1 percent.
Among auto makers, Toyota and Honda are rising more than 1 percent each. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising almost 3 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is gaining almost 5 percent after it raised its planned full-year dividend, while Japan Petroleum is higher by more than 4 percent.
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone said it will invest 3 trillion yen over the next five years on advanced research activities and next generation 5G mobile communications networks. The company's shares are advancing more than 1 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Minebea Mitsumi is gaining almost 10 percent, Meiji Holdings is rising more than 9 percent and Denka Co. is higher by more than 7 percent.
On the flip side, Pioneer Corp. is losing 3 percent and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings is lower by almost 2 percent.
In economic news, the Cabinet Office said that the value of core machine orders in Japan plunged 18.3 percent on month in September, coming in at 802.2 billion yen. That was well shy of expectations for a decline of 9.0 percent following the 6.8 percent increase in August.
The Ministry of Finance said that Japan had a current account surplus of 1,821.6 billion yen in September, down 19.3 percent on year. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of 1,786.5 billion yen and was down from 1,838.4 billion yen in August.
The trade balance showed a surplus of 323.3 billion yen - shy of expectations for 334.2 billion yen, following the 219.3 billion yen deficit in the previous month. Imports were up 8.0 percent on year to 6.347 trillion yen, while exports dipped an annual 0.9 percent to 6.671 trillion yen.
The Bank of Japan said that overall bank lending in Japan was up 2.2 percent on year in October, coming in at 529.471 trillion yen. That follows the 2.3 percent increase in September.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 113 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is rising more than 1 percent, while Hong Kong and Singapore are advancing almost 1 percent each. Shanghai, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are also higher.
On Wall Street, stocks rallied on Wednesday, adding to the gains posted in the previous session, as the results of the highly anticipated midterm elections on Tuesday came largely in line with expectations. Democrats retook control of the House for the first time since 2010, while Republicans tightened their hold on the Senate.
The Dow surged up 545.29 points or 2.1 percent to 26,180.30, the Nasdaq soared 194.79 points or 2.6 percent to 7,570.75 and the S&P 500 spiked 58.44 points or 2.1 percent to 2,813.89.
The major European markets also moved notably higher on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
Crude oil prices tumbled after an early surge on Wednesday, as data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed a seventh straight weekly rise in U.S. crude inventories. WTI crude for December declined $0.54 or 0.9 percent to close at $61.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement price in nearly eight months.
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