Asian Markets Advance After Wall Street Hits Record Highs

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Asian Markets Advance After Wall Street Hits Record Highs

Asian stock markets are rising on Friday following the record closing highs overnight on Wall Street amid upbeat corporate earnings results and a continued decline in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits. Progress in the vaccine rollout and optimism about U.S. fiscal stimulus also lifted the markets.

The Australian market is advancing following the overnight gains on Wall Street and as the Reserve Bank of Australia said it will extend monetary policy support despite the Australian economy performing better than expected over the past year.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 67.40 points or 1.00 percent to 6,832.90, after touching a high of 6,846.70. The broader All Ordinaries Index is higher by 66.90 points or 0.95 percent to 7,104.80. Australian stocks closed lower on Thursday, snapping a three-day winning streak.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank ANZ Banking are advancing almost 2 percent each, while Westpac is adding more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also notably higher after crude oil prices extended gains to a fourth session overnight. Santos is gaining more than 2 percent, Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 2 percent and Oil Search is rising almost 1 percent.

In the tech sector, WiseTech Global is higher by more than 2 percent, Afterpay is adding almost 2 percent and Appen is up more than 1 percent.

The major miners are mostly higher with modest gains. BHP Group is adding 0.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is declining 0.5 percent.

Gold miners are also modestly higher even as gold prices tumbled overnight. Evolution Mining is adding 0.4 percent and Newcrest Mining is up 0.3 percent.

Shares of News Corp. are gaining more than 12 percent after the media giant’s second-quarter profit more than doubled and beat analysts’ expectations.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total value of retail sales in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 4.1 percent on month in December, coming in at A$30.368 billion. That follows the 7.1 percent spike in November.

The Japanese market is rising and the yen weakened against the U.S. dollar after Wall Street closed at record highs overnight.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 231.79 points or 0.82 percent to 28,573.74, after touching a high of 28,700.31 in early trades. Japanese shares ended lower on Thursday to snap a three-day winning streak.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing almost 2 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is down 0.2 percent, while Tokyo Electron is adding 0.3 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.6 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is advancing almost 2 percent and Honda is higher by more than 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Inpex is rising more than 2 percent after crude oil prices extended gains to a fourth straight session overnight.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is declining more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 1 percent and Canon is down 0.6 percent, while Sony is higher by almost 2 percent.

Nidec, a maker of electric motors, said it has agreed to acquire Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Machine Tool Co. Ltd., a producer of equipment for automotive gears, from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. for about 30 billion yen. Shares of Nidec are adding almost 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is losing almost 4 percent.

Among the other major losers, Furukawa Electric is tumbling more than 9 percent, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Oki Electric Industry are losing more than 4 percent each.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was down 0.6 percent on year in December, coming in at 315,007 yen. That beat forecasts for a decline of 2.4 percent following the 1.1 percent increase in November.

Japan will also see preliminary December numbers for its leading and coincident index today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed at record highs on Thursday amid easing concerns about speculative trading and following mostly upbeat earnings news from big-name companies. Positive sentiment was also generated in reaction to a report from the Labor Department showing a continued decline in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 30.

The Dow surged up 332.26 points or 1.1 percent to 31,055.86, the Nasdaq jumped 167.20 points or 1.2 percent to 13,777.74 and the S&P 500 shot up 41.57 points or 1.1 percent to 3,871.74.

The major European markets mostly moved to the upside on Thursday. The French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively, although the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures extended gains to a fourth straight session, on continued optimism that crude oil supplies will drop thanks to OPEC and its allies’ commitment to reduce output to stabilize the oil market. WTI crude added $0.54 or about 1 percent to close at $56.23 a barrel.

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