Asian Markets Mostly Higher

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday following the record closing highs on Wall Street Friday and on news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or FDA has granted emergency authorization for the use of blood plasma to treat hospitalized coronavirus patients.

Investors now look ahead to a policy speech by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell at a virtual edition of the Fed's annual Jackson Hole symposium later this week.

The Australian market is edging higher in choppy trade despite the record closing highs on Wall Street, as investors digested the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on corporate earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 1.30 points or 0.02 percent to 6,112.50, after touching a low of 6,094.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 9.30 points or 0.15 percent to 6,280.00. Australian stocks closed marginally lower on Friday.

The major miners are mostly lower. Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent, while Rio Tinto is declining 0.4 percent and BHP Group is down 0.3 percent.

Rio Tinto said it will cut the short-term bonuses of its chief executive Jean-Sebastian Jacques and two other senior executives by about $3.7 million in total in 2020, following a review of the company's destruction of two historically significant caves in Australia.

Meanwhile, Fortescue Metals reported a 49 percent surge in full-year profit to $4.7 billion and said it expects to achieve net zero emissions from its operations by 2040.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank is lower by more than 1 percent, while Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are down in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.7 percent.

AMP said that David Murray has resigned as the company's chairman while executives John Fraser and Boe Pahari have also stepped down from their current roles after AMP's major shareholders raised accountability concerns following a sexual harassment complaint against Pahari. Shares of AMP are advancing more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices declined on Friday. Woodside Petroleum is losing more than 2 percent, Oil Search is lower by more than 1 percent and Santos is down 0.6 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower on Friday. Evolution Mining is unchanged and Newcrest Mining is declining 0.7 percent.

The Japanese market is modestly higher in choppy trade despite the record closing highs on Wall Street. Investor sentiment was dampened following news that the daily number of coronavirus cases in Tokyo topped 200 for the fourth straight day on Sunday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 57.08 points or 0.25 percent to 22,977.38, after touching a low of 23,862.54 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.7 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Canon and Panasonic are declining almost 1 percent each, while Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.1 percent. Sony is higher by more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is adding 0.4 percent, while Tokyo Electron is down 0.2 percent. In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is advancing almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.6 percent.

Among automakers, Honda Motor is advancing more than 1 percent and Toyota is up 0.3 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is losing almost 1 percent and Inpex is down 0.4 percent after crude oil prices declined on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Nissan Chemical, Dai-ichi Life and Daikin Industries are rising more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Fujikura is losing almost 3 percent, while Mitsui E&S Holdings, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Mitsui OSK Lines are all lower by more than 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 105 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is advancing more than 1 percent and South Korea is rising almost 1 percent. Singapore, New Zealand and Taiwan are modestly higher, while Shanghai and Indonesia are edging higher. Malaysia is lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed at record highs on Friday following the release of a report from IHS Markit showing U.S. business activity expanded at the fastest pace in over a year in the month of August. Adding to the positive sentiment, the National Association of Realtors released a report showing existing home sales in the U.S. continued to soar in the month of July.

The Dow advanced 190.60 points or 0.7 percent to 27,930.33, the Nasdaq climbed 46.85 points or 0.4 percent to 11,311.80 and the S&P 500 rose 11.65 points or 0.3 percent to 3,397.16.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices tumbled on Friday as the latest Euro zone flash purchasing managers' index for August dented hopes of a V-shaped recovery from the bloc's deepest economic downturn on record. WTI crude futures declined $0.48 or 1.12 percent at $42.34 a barrel.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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