Asian Markets Track Global Markets Higher

(RTTNews) - Following the broadly positive cues from global markets overnight, Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Thursday, as traders reacted to the congressional testimony by US Fed Chair Jerome Powell, which raised the possibility of an interest rate cut in June. Asian Markets closed mixed on Wednesday.

Powell said it will likely be appropriate for the Fed to begin lowering interest rates at "some point this year," although he reiterated officials need "greater confidence" inflation is moving sustainably toward 2 percent.

The Fed Chief described the economic outlook as "uncertain" and said progress towards the Fed's 2 percent inflation objective is "not assured."

"Reducing policy restraint too soon or too much could result in a reversal of progress we have seen in inflation and ultimately require even tighter policy to get inflation back to 2 percent," Powell said.

He added, "At the same time, reducing policy restraint too late or too little could unduly weaken economic activity and employment."

Powell is due to deliver his second day of testimony on Capitol Hill on Thursday,

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, extending the slight gains in the previous session, following the broadly positive cues from global markets overnight. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 is staying above the 7,700 level, with gains across most sectors led by mining and technology stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 11.20 points or 0.15 percent to 7,744.70, after touching a high of 7,767.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 16.30 points or 0.20 percent to 8,006.60. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Wednesday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto is gaining more than 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 2 percent and Mineral Resources is adding more than 3 percent, while BHP Group is losing almost 1 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Santos is gaining almost 2 percent, Origin Energy is adding more than 1 percent and Beach energy is advancing 1.5 percent, while Woodside Energy is losing more than 2 percent.

In the tech space, Appen is soaring 9.5 percent, Xero is gaining more than 1 percent, Afterpay owner Block is edging up 0.2 percent, Zip is skyrocketing more than 11 percent and WiseTech Global is advancing almost 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are gaining almost 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking and Westpac are edging up 0.1 to 0.4 percent each.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining more than 2 percent, Gold Road Resources is adding almost 1 percent, Resolute Mining is advancing more than 3 percent and Northern Star Resources is up 2.5 percent, while Newmont is losing almost 1 percent.

In economic news, Australia posted a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade surplus of A$11.027 billion in January, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That missed forecasts for a surplus of A$11.420 billion following the downwardly revised A$10.743 billion surplus in December (originally A$10.959 billion).

Exports were up 1.6 percent on month to A$47.511 billion after gaining a downwardly revised 1.5 percent in the previous month (originally 1.8 percent). Imports rose 1.3 percent on month to A$36.483 billion yen, slowing from 4.8 percent a month earlier.

Meanwhile, the total value of owner-occupied home loans issued in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 4.6 percent on month in January, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday - coming in at A$15.91 billion. On a yearly basis, owner-occupied home loans rose 3.4 percent and investment lending jumped 18.5 percent for an increase of 8.5 percent in overall loans.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.658 on Thursday.

Extending the slight losses in the previous two sessions, the Japanese market is significantly lower on Thursday after opening in the green, despite the broadly positive cues from global markets overnight. The Nikkei 225 is falling to near the 39,700 level after scaling fresh all-time highs, with losses in technology stocks partially offset by gains in exporters and financial stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 39,743.10, down 347.68 points or 0.87 percent, after touching an all-time high of 40,472.11 earlier. Japanese shares ended slightly lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is losing almost 2 percent and Honda is declining more than 2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 4 percent, Tokyo Electron is declining almost 3 percent and Screen Holdings is slipping more than 4 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.5 percent.

Among the major exporters, Canon is gaining more than 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is adding almost 1 percent and Sony is edging up 0.1 percent, while Panasonic is losing almost 1 percent.

Among other major losers, Mazda Motor is declining more than 4 percent and Nissan Motor is losing almost 4 percent, while Mitsubishi Motors, Resonac Holdings and Subaru are down almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Kawasaki Heavy Industries is gaining more than 4 percent, while Sompo Holdings, DeNA, Resona Holdings, CyberAgent and Rakuten Group are adding more than 3 percent each. Yaskawa Electric, MS&AD Insurance, Japan Post and Orix are advancing almost 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 148 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan is up 1.1 percent, while New Zealand, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.4 percent each. Hong Kong and South Korea are down 0.1 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Wednesday following a notable pullback to start the week. The major averages all moved to the upside on the day but remain well off their recent record highs.

The major averages finished the day off their highs of the session but still in positive territory. The Nasdaq climbed 91.95 points or 0.6 percent to 16,031.54, the S&P 500 rose 26.1 points or 0.5 percent to 5,104.76 and the Dow edged up 75.86 points or 0.2 percent to 38,661.05.

The major European markets all also moved modestly higher on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices settled higher on Wednesday after data showed large declines in gasoline and distillate stockpiles last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended higher by $0.98 or 1.25 percent at $79.13 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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