Asian Markets Mostly Higher On Renewed Stimulus Optimism

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Thursday as risk appetite improved amid renewed optimism about more U.S. fiscal stimulus. U.S. President Donald Trump said he would support aid to airlines and other stimulus measures, after calling off negotiations over a broader relief package.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session after U.S. stocks closed higher overnight.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 49.60 points or 0.82 percent to 6,086.00, after touching a high of 6,093.20. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 50.70 points or 0.81 percent to 6,290.30. Australian stocks rallied on Wednesday after the federal government unveiled fresh fiscal stimulus measures.

In the mining sector, BHP Group is rising almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding 0.5 percent.

Gold miners are also higher even as gold prices extended losses overnight. Evolution Mining is gaining more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.2 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent, while Westpac is advancing more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay is rising almost 2 percent and WiseTech Global is adding more than 1 percent, while Appen is down 0.6 percent.

Among oil stocks, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are lower by 0.4 percent each, while Santos is down 0.2 percent after crude oil prices slipped overnight.

Ampol said it will explore options including a closure of its refinery in Lytton, Brisbane amid low fuel demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shares of the petroleum company are rising almost 2 percent.

The Japanese market is advancing following the positive cues from Wall Street amid optimism about more U.S. fiscal stimulus. Better than expected Japanese economic data also boosted sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 142.68 points or 0.61 percent to 23,565.50, off a high of 23,569.15. Japanese stocks closed little changed on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.6 percent and Fast Retailing is up 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing more than 2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Canon is declining 0.4 percent, while Panasonic and Sony are down 0.2 percent each. Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.4 percent.

Among banks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.2 percent. Among the major automakers, Toyota is advancing almost 1 percent, while Honda is declining 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is higher by almost 2 percent, while Inpex is edging down 0.1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Screen Holdings is gaining almost 6 percent and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is rising more than 4 percent. Fujikura and Credit Saison are higher by more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Aeon is losing almost 4 percent and Kikkoman Corp. is lower by 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a current account surplus of 2,102.8 billion yen in August, down 1.5 percent on year. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of 1,983.7 billion yen following the 1,468.3 billion yen surplus in July. Exports were down 15.5 percent on year at 5.124 trillion yen, while imports sank an annual 22.0 percent to 4.711 trillion yen.

The trade surplus was 413 billion yen, up from 137.3 billion yen in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 106 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand is advancing almost 2 percent and Taiwan is rising almost 1 percent. South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher, while Singapore and Hong Kong are lower. The markets in China remain closed for the National Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday, reacting to President Donald Trump’s tweet that raised hopes of a smaller aid package sometime soon. Trump indicated he would support individual stimulus measures after calling off negotiations over a broader relief package.

The Dow ended up 530.70 points or 1.91 percent at 28,303.46, the Nasdaq climbed 210 points or 1.88 percent to settle at 11,364.60 and the S&P 500 moved up 58.49 points or 1.74 percent to 3,419.44.

The major European markets closed mostly lower on Wednesday in choppy trade. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 edged down 0.06 percent and France’s CAC 40 declined 0.27 percent, while Germany’s DAX moved up 0.17 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Wednesday as hopes about a new stimulus package faded after U.S. President Donald Trump halted negotiations with Democrats, and data showed an increase in crude stockpiles last week. WTI crude futures ended down $0.72 or about 1.8 percent at $39.95 a barrel.

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