Asian Markets Mostly Higher

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(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday, the last trading day of the quarter, following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and on news that China has eased restrictions on foreign investment amid rising trade tensions with the U.S. Crude oil prices slipped in Asian trades after rising to a three-and-a-half-year high overnight.

The Australian market is edging higher on the last trading day of the financial year, following the gains on Wall Street amid worries about U.S. trade policy. Gains by mining stocks were offset by weakness in oil stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 2.70 points or 0.04 percent to 6,218.10, after rising to a high of 6,232.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 4.50 points or 0.07 percent to 6,310.30.

The major miners are mostly higher. BHP Billiton is adding 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is rising 0.5 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining almost 2 percent.

BHP Billiton has agreed to pay $158 million in remediation and compensation to the Brazilian non-profit foundation it set up in response to the 2015 Samarco mine dam collapse.

Atlas Iron's board has unanimously backed Gina Rinehart'sA$390 million takeover bid for the company. The miner's shares are unchanged.

Gold miners are edging higher despite gold prices losing for a fourth straight session overnight. Evolution Mining is up 0.3 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.2 percent.

Banking stocks are also mostly higher. ANZ Banking is edging down less than 0.1 percent, while National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.7 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is down 0.4 percent, Oil Search is declining 0.3 percent and Santos is lower by more than 1 percent despite crude oil prices rising to a three-and-a-half year high.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar rose against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7355, up from US$0.7333 on Thursday.

The Japanese market slipped into negative territory after opening higher following the positive cues from Wall Street and on a weaker yen. Worries about trade tensions between the U.S. and other major economies weighed on investor sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 67.59 points or 0.30 percent to 22,202.80, after rising to a high of 22,332.82 in early trades.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Canon is adding 0.6 percent and Panasonic is up 0.3 percent, while Sony is losing more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is losing almost 1 percent.

Sharp Corp.'s shares are rising almost 17 percent after the company said it has cancelled plans to raise as much as 200 billion yen in a public share sale, citing a volatile share market due to U.S.-China trade tensions.

Automaker Toyota is down 0.2 percent and Honda is lower by 0.1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging higher by 0.1 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is losing 2 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is declining more than 2 percent despite crude oil prices rising to a three-and-a half-year high overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Rakuten is rising 4 percent, while Nippon Electric Glass and Fukuoka Financial are higher by almost 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Screen Holdings is losing more than 7 percent, while Chiyoda Corp., Sumco Corp and Toto are lower by more than 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 110 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Malaysia is rising 2 percent, while Shanghai, Taiwan and Hong Kong are all adding more than 1 percent each. Singapore, New Zealand and Indonesia are also higher, while South Korea is edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks rebounded to close higher on Thursday partly reflecting bargain hunting, with the Dow bouncing off its lowest intraday level in almost two months. The early weakness reflected lingering concerns about the global economic impact of the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and other major economies.

The Dow rose 98.46 points or 0.4 percent to 24,216.05, the Nasdaq advanced 58.60 points or 0.8 percent to 7,503.68 and the S&P 500 climbed 16.68 points or 0.6 percent to 2,716.31.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1 percent and the German DAX Index plunged by 1.4 percent.

Crude oil futures continued to surge Thursday, rising to a three-and-a-half-year high amid a sudden plunge in US oil inventories. WTI crude rose $0.69 or 0.95 percent to $73.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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This article appears in: Politics , World Markets , US Markets , Stocks

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