Asian Markets Rise On Last Trading Day Of 2018

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( - Asian stock markets are higher on Monday, the last trading day of 2018, despite the mixed cues from Wall Street Friday. Optimism about easing of U.S.-China trade tensions boosted investor sentiment after U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter that he had a "long and very good" call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Investors also digested news that China's manufacturing activity contracted in December. The latest survey from the National Bureau of Statistics said that the manufacturing sector in China fell into contraction in December, with a PMI score of 49.4. That's down from the no-change mark of 50.0 in November, falling beneath that mark and into contraction. A score above 50 signals expansion.

The bureau also said its non-manufacturing PMI climbed to 53.8 from 53.4 in the previous month.

The Australian market is rising in a shortened trading session on New Year's Eve, extending gains from the previous session despite the mixed cues from Wall Street on Friday. Optimism about U.S.-China trade relations boosted sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 41.70 points or 0.74 percent to 5,696.00 after touching a high of 5,700.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 40.30 points or 0.71 percent to 5,756.30. Australian stocks closed notably higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is advancing almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is up almost 1 percent.

Meanwhile, Galaxy Resources' shares are declining more than 2 percent after the mining company said it has received offers from several potential partners for its flagship Sal de Vida lithium project in Argentina and will only proceed with a strategic partner if the partner can add additional value to the project.

The big four banks - National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking - are advancing in a range of 1.0 percent to 1.6 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices rose on Friday. Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.5 percent and Santos is adding 0.2 percent, while Oil Search is down 0.4 percent.

Gold miners are mixed despite gold prices extending gains on Friday. Newcrest Mining is gaining more than 3 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.3 percent.

In economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia said that private sector credit in Australia was up 0.3 percent on month in November, in line with expectations and slowing from 0.4 percent in October.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is unchanged against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7048, the same as on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore New Zealand, Malaysia and Hong Kong are also higher. Several other regional bourses are closed on Monday for New Year's Eve, including Japan, South Korea, China, Indonesia and Thailand.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday in a volatile session as traders seemed to take a breather following the substantial volatility seen over the past several sessions.

While the Nasdaq inched up 5.03 points or 0.1 percent to 6,584.52, the Dow dipped 76.42 points or 0.3 percent to 23,062.40 and the S&P 500 edged down 3.09 points or 0.1 percent at 2,485.74.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Friday. While the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index spiked by 2.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both surged up by 1.7 percent.

Crude oil futures ended higher on Friday, rebounding after a setback in the previous session, after data from U.S. Energy Information Administration showed a much less than expected decline in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. WTI crude for February rose $0.72 or 1.6 percent to close at $45.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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