Markets

Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Renewed Trade Deal Optimism

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday despite the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street. Investor sentiment was boosted after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that the U.S. was getting close to a trade agreement with China.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session despite the lackluster cues from Wall Street. Property trusts and mining stocks are among the major gainers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 21.50 points or 0.32 percent to 6,756.60, after touching a high of 6,766.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 19.90 points or 0.29 percent to 6,860.70. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday amid optimism about a rate cut by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Among property trusts, Goodman Group is higher by almost 2 percent, while Vicinity Centers and Mirvac Group are higher by more than 1 percent each.

The major miners are mostly higher. BHP and Fortescue Metals are adding 0.5 percent each, while Rio Tinto is edging down 0.12 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising 0.2 percent after gold prices rose overnight for a second straight session.

Oil stocks are mixed after crude oil prices declined overnight. Santos is lower by 0.3 percent, Oil Search is unchanged, and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.4 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking is down 0.1 percent and Westpac is lower by 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding almost 1 percent.

National Australia Bank is declining 1 percent after the lender said 1,700 of its staff failed to meet risk expectations during the last financial year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or ACCC said it will not block GrainCorp's sale of six of its seven Australia bulk liquid terminals business to ANZ Terminals. GrainCorp's shares are rising more than 6 percent.

Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board or FIRB has approved the A$1.5 billion takeover of Bellamy's Australia by China Mengniu Dairy Company, but the infant formula maker will be required to remain headquartered in Australia for a decade and run by a majority Australian board. Bellamy's shares are higher by almost 2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6784, up from $0.6798 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is rising after a weak start following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 190.51 points or 0.82 percent to 23,332.06, after touching a low of 23,121.59 in early trades. Japanese shares fell sharply on Thursday.

The major exporters are higher despite a stronger yen. Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are higher by almost 1 percent each, while Canon is rising 0.7 percent and Panasonic is up 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is rising more than 1 percent and Advantest is higher by almost 1 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group and Fast Retailing are adding 0.2 percent each.

FamilyMart UNY Holdings said it will cut about 800 jobs, or about 10 percent of its workforce, as part of its efforts to streamline operations following repeated consolidations. The convenience store operator's shares are higher by more than 2 percent.

Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor is rising 0.2 percent and Honda Motor is up 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by 0.3 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the major gainers, Dentsu is rising almost 6 percent and Nisshin Seifun Group is higher by more than 5 percent. Nippon Suisan Kaisha and Japan Post Holdings are gaining more than 4 percent each.

On the flip side, Z Holdings is losing more than 5 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher, while Malaysia is edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed nearly flat on Thursday in another lackluster session as traders seemed reluctant to make any significant moves as the U.S.-China trade talks drag on. With earnings season largely in the rearview mirror and the Federal Reserve signaling interest rates will remain on hold for the foreseeable future, traders are looking the next catalyst for the markets.

The S&P 500 inched up 2.59 points or 0.1 percent to a new record closing high of 3,096.63, while the Dow edged down 1.63 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 27,781.96 and the Nasdaq slipped 3.08 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 8,479.02.

The major European markets all moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index dropped by 0.4 percent and the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures pared early gains and settled moderately lower on Thursday after data showed a larger than expected increase in crude stockpiles last week. WTI crude for December delivery slid $0.35 to $56.77 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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