Asian Markets Rise, Australia Bucks Trend

Asian stock markets, with the exception of Australia, are rising on Thursday following the overnight gains on Wall Street that reflected a rebound by tech stocks. Investors also remained optimistic about more stimulus measures and an economic recovery despite stalled U.S. stimulus talks.

The Australian market slipped into negative territory after opening higher. Weak earnings results from telecommunications giant Telstra dampened sentiment.

Investors also turned cautious as they digested Australia’s unemployment data for July that showed an uptick in the unemployment rate as well as a surge in employment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 38.50 points or 0.63 percent to 6,093.50, after earlier rising to a high of 6,157.30. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 31.40 points or 0.50 percent to 6,225.60. Australian stocks closed modestly lower on Wednesday.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 1.2 percent to 1.4 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is losing more than 2 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto and BHP Group are advancing almost 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is down 0.4 percent.

Gold miners are higher even as gold prices edged lower overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is advancing almost 2 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is higher by more than 2 percent, Santos is rising almost 2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding almost 1 percent after crude oil prices rebounded overnight.

Telstra reported a 14 percent decrease in full-year profit and extended its pause on planned job cuts to February next year. The telecommunications giant’s shares are losing more than 5 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the unemployment rate in Australia was a seasonally adjusted 7.5 percent in July. That came in beneath expectations for 7.8 percent and was up from 7.4 percent in June.

The Australian economy added 114,700 jobs last month to 12,460,800, exceeding forecasts for an increase of 40,000 following the addition of 210,800 jobs in the previous month.

The Japanese market is rising following the positive cues from Wall Street as a rebound in tech stocks helped offset worries about stalled U.S. stimulus talks. However, a stronger yen weighed on exporters’ shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 408.49 points or 1.79 percent to 23,252.45, after touching a high of 23,289.77 earlier. The Japanese market closed higher on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 4 percent and Fast Retailing is rising more than 2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining more than 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is rising more than 3 percent. In the financial sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.1 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is advancing more than 1 percent, while Honda Motor is lower by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Panasonic is declining almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.4 percent and Canon is edging down 0.1 percent, while Sony is higher by more than 2 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is rising more than 3 percent, while Inpex is declining 0.5 percent after crude oil prices rallied overnight.

Hitachi Ltd said that the company and Canada’s Bombardier will supply 23 high-speed trains to Italian railway operator Trenitalia for services in Spain under a contract worth 100 billion yen. Shares of Hitachi are adding 0.2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Olympus Corp. is gaining more than 5 percent, while Taiheiyo Cement, Screen Holdings, Secom Co. and Trend Micro are all rising more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, Kuraray Co. and Yokogawa Electric are losing more than 5 percent each, while JFE Holdings is lower by more than 4 percent and Showa Denko is declining almost 4 percent.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.6 percent on month in July. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent following the 0.6 percent increase in June.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore is advancing more than 1 percent and Malaysia is adding almost 1 percent, while Shanghai, South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday, partly reflecting a rebound by tech stocks, which have pulled back sharply in recent sessions after the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached another new record closing high last Thursday. Positive sentiment may also have been generated by news that the U.S. government has secured 100 million doses of Moderna’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine in a deal valued at up to $1.525 billion. Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Labor Department showing the biggest increase in core consumer prices in nearly thirty years.

The Dow jumped 289.93 points or 1.1 percent to 27,976.84, the Nasdaq soared 229.42 points or 2.1 percent to 11,012.24 and the S&P 500 surged up 46.66 points or 1.4 percent to 3,380.35.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index spiked by 2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both advanced by 0.9 percent.

Crude oil prices rallied on Wednesday after industry data showed that U.S. inventories of crude fell more than analysts expected, raising hopes of a recovery in global oil demand. WTI crude futures gained $1.07 or 2.6 percent to $42.70 a barrel.

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