(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Thursday with Australia and New Zealand leading the gainers, following the mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street and reflecting the absence of fresh developments in U.S.-China trade tensions. Crude oil prices slipped in Asian trades after rising almost 2 percent overnight.
The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session. In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 46.20 points or 0.75 percent to 6,218.80, off a high of 6,230.70. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 44.60 points or 0.71 percent to 6,319.20. Australian shares rose sharply on Wednesday to reach a 10-year high.
Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is adding 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining 0.4 percent.
Atlas Iron's board has backed a takeover bid by billionaire Gina Rinehart after rival bidder Mineral Resources declined to respond with a superior offer. Shares of Atlas Iron are declining more than 2 percent.
Gold miner Evolution Mining is rising more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.5 percent despite lower gold prices.
Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Oil Search is up 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.7 percent, while Santos is lower by 0.2 percent.
In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent, while ANZ Banking is declining 0.2 percent.
BP Australia has backed out a deal with supermarkets giant Woolworths to buy its petrol business more than six months after the consumer watchdog rejected the A$1.8 billion deal. Shares of Woolworths are rising 0.5 percent.
Bellamy's Australia has signed a deal with global dairy giant Fonterra to help Tasmanian farmers switch to organic practices and will make an initial contribution of $5.5 million. Shares of Bellamy's are gaining more than 5 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar continued to slide against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7364, down from US$0.7399 on Wednesday.
The Japanese market recovered after a weak start and is modestly higher following the mostly positive lead from Wall Street and on a weaker yen.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 44.94 points or 0.20 percent to 22,600.37, off a high of 22,624.88. Japanese shares ended a choppy session higher on Wednesday.
Among the major exporters, Canon is declining almost 1 percent, Panasonic is down 0.4 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.1 percent, while Sony is rising more than 2 percent.
Automaker Toyota is losing 0.4 percent and Honda is declining 0.6 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down almost 2 percent.
Among oil stocks, Inpex is rising 0.6 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is lower by more than 1 percent despite higher crude oil prices overnight.
Among the market's best performers, Takeda Pharmaceutical is rising 5 percent, Showa Denko is gaining almost 3 percent and Daiichi Sankyo is higher by more than 2 percent.
On the flip side, Nitto Denko is losing almost 3 percent, while Oji Holdings, Chiba Bank and Credit Saison are lower by more than 2 percent.
In economic news, Japan will see supermarket sales data for May today.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 110 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher, while South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore are lower.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday with the tech-heavy Nasdaq reaching a new record closing high, reflecting strength among media stocks after Disney raised its offer for most of Twenty-First Century Fox's media assets. On the other hand, notable declines by Travelers and McDonald's contributed to the modest loss posted by the Dow.
While the Dow edged down 42.41 points or 0.2 percent to 24,657.80, the Nasdaq climbed 55.93 points or 0.7 percent to 7,781.51 and the S&P 500 rose 4.73 points or 0.2 percent to 2,767.32.
The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent.
Crude oil futures rebounded Wednesday after the latest U.S. inventories report showed a bigger drop than expected. July WTI oil gained $1.15 or 1.8 percent to end at $66.22 a barrel on expiration day.
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