Asian Markets Higher After Wall Street Rally

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( - Asian stock markets, led by Japan, are in positive territory on Thursday following the overnight rally on Wall Street, which recorded its best performance in nine years, and the sharp rebound in crude oil prices. Data showing strong consumer spending in the U.S. and easing worries about the tenure of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell lifted investor sentiment.

The Australian market is advancing after a two-day Christmas break, with stocks gaining across the board.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 60.00 points or 1.09 percent to 5,553.80, after touching a high of 5,578.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 60.70 points or 1.09 percent to 5,620.30. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Monday as markets closed early for the Christmas holidays.

Oil stocks are notably higher after crude oil prices surged more than 8 percent overnight. Oil Search is advancing more than 2 percent, Santos is gaining almost 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by more than 3 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is up almost 1 percent, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent and BHP Group is rising almost 3 percent.

Gold miners are also gaining after gold prices edged higher overnight. Evolution Mining is higher by more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.9 percent, while ANZ Banking is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7070, up from $0.7062 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is extending gains from the previous session following the overnight rally on Wall Street and on a weaker yen. The benchmark Nikkei has reclaimed the key 20,000 mark.

The Nikkei 225 Index is rising 712.49 points or 3.69 percent to 20,039.55, after touching a high of 20,100.65 in early trades. Japanese shares, which ended at a 20-month low on Tuesday, rebounded on bargain hunting Wednesday.

The major exporters are mostly higher as the yen weakened. Sony is higher by more than 5 percent, Panasonic is gaining almost 5 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 3 percent and Canon is advancing more than 2 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is higher by more than 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is gaining more than 3 percent. Among the major automakers, Honda is up more than 3 percent and Toyota is gaining almost 4 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are higher by more than 3 percent each. In the oil space, Inpex is rising more than 4 percent and Japan Petroleum is up almost 5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Chiyoda Corp. is gaining 9 percent, Showa Shell Sekiyu is rising more than 8 percent and JXTG Holdings is higher by almost 7 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will release November numbers for housing starts and construction orders today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks rebounded strongly on Wednesday reflecting gains in retail and energy shares. Positive sentiment may have been generated by members of President Donald Trump's administration continuing to downplay reports the President has privately discussed firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

The Dow soared 1,086.25 or 5 percent to 22,878.45, the Nasdaq spiked 361.44 points or 5.8 percent to 6,554.36 and the S&P 500 surged up 116.60 points or 5 percent to 2,467.70.

The major European markets remained closed on Wednesday for the Boxing Day holiday.

Crude oil prices rose sharply amid thin deals on Wednesday, rebounding from a 6.7 percent plunge on Christmas Eve. WTI crude for February rose $3.69 or 8.7 percent to close at $46.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, recording their biggest single session gain in several months.

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