Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Friday, following the mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, with support from crude oil prices and technology stocks. Investors are also cautious amid persistent concerns about inflation and fears that global central banks may be forced to raise rates sooner than later. Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday.

Recent news of resurgence in coronavirus cases in the region and Europe is denting investor sentiment.

The Australian stock market is slightly higher on Friday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,400 level, following mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, helped by slight gains in financial stocks, even as most other sectors were weak amid concerns about rising inflation. Traders also continue to pick up socks at a bargain after the recent losses.

Traders are also cautious as the country is gradually reopening after lifting lockdown restrictions, particularly in Victoria where COVID-19 cases are still high. Victoria reported 1,273 new locally acquired cases and eight deaths on Thursday. NSW has reported 216 new local cases of COVID-19 and three deaths.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 14.80 points or 0.20 percent to 7,394.00, after touching a high of 7,404.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 15.70 points or 0.20 percent to 7,728.90. Australian markets ended slightly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto is losing almost 1 percent and OZ Minerals is declining almost 2 percent, while Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.2 percent and Mineral Resources is rising more than 2 percent. BHP Group is flat.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Oil Search and Santos are edging up 0.5 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is gaining almost 1 percent. Origin Energy is edging down 0.2 percent and Beach energy is flat.

Among tech stocks, Xero is edging down 0.3 percent, WiseTech Global is declining more than 3 percent, Afterpay is losing almost 2 percent and Appen is down more than 1 percent.

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

Gold miners are higher. Resolute Mining and Northern Star Resources are losing more than 1 percent each, while Evolution Mining and Gold Road Resources are down almost 1 percent each. Newcrest Mining is declining almost 2 percent.

Shares in Crown Resorts are soaring almost 16 percent after the struggling casino giant received a sweetened $12.50 a share offer from US private equity group Blackstone, its second largest shareholder, to acquire the 90 percent stake it does not hold in the third attempt.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.727 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading modestly higher in choppy trading on Friday, recouping some of the losses in the previous six sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 just above the 29,700 level, following the mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders are bargain hunting after the recent losing streak. Traders are also awaiting the implementation of the bigger than indicated economic stimulus package from newly elected government.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,718.62, up 119.96 points or 0.41 percent, after touching a high of 29,755.92 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 2 percent, while Toyota is edging down 0.5 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining 1.5 percent and Tokyo Electron is surging almost 5 percent, while Screen Holdings is up almost 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are edging down 0.4 percent each, while Mizuho Financial is losing more than 2 percent.

Among major exporters, Panasonic is losing more than 1 percent, while Canon is gaining more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.2 percent. Sony is flat.

Among the other major gainers, Kubota is gaining 4.5 percent, while Dowa Holdings and Taiyo Yuden are advancing almost 4 percent each. Mitsui & Co. and Fujifilm Holdings are up more than 3 percent each, while Inpex and DIC Corp. are rising almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, CyberAgent is sliding almost 5 percent, T&D Holdings is losing more than 3 percent and Eisai is down almost 3 percent.

In economic news, overall consumer prices in Japan were up 0.1 percent on year in October, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Friday. That was in line with expectations and down from 0.2 percent in September. Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food prices, also rose an annual 0.1 percent – unchanged and matching forecasts. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, overall inflation slipped 0.3 percent and core CPI dipped 0.1 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 114 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. Hong Kong and New Zealand are down 1.7 and 0.4 percent, respectively. Singapore is trading relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Thursday before closing mixed after ending the previous session modestly lower. Despite the choppy trading, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs.

While the Nasdaq climbed 72.14 points or 0.5 percent to 15,993.71 and the S&P 500 rose 15.87 points or 0.3 percent to 4,704.54, the narrower Dow recovered from its early lows but still closed down 60.10 points or 0.2 percent at 35,870.95.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both edged down by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled higher Thursday, bouncing back after early weakness, despite uncertainty about the outlook for energy demand. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for December gained $0.65 or 0.8 percent at $79.01 a barrel.

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