Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher in cautious trading on Friday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street as the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package got its final seal from President Joe Biden to become a law, paving the way for an economic recovery. Technology and oil stocks helped lead the way higher amid continued bargain hunting. Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Thursday.

The Australian stock market is rising on Friday, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 6,800 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street. The market is driven by gains in technology shares and the heavyweight materials sector. The market is also heading towards posting its second weekly gain.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 55.40 points or 0.83 percent to 6,769.30, after touching a low of 6,783.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is higher by 63.00 points or 091 percent to 7,015.90. Australian stocks hit a five-week low before ending a choppy session on a flat note.

The major miners are strong. Fortescue Metals and BHP Group are higher by more than 2 percent each, while Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are higher after crude oil prices surged overnight. Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are adding more than 2 percent each, while Santos is gaining almost 3 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are higher by 0.5 percent each, while ANZ Banking is adding more than 1 percent.

Tech stocks are also higher. Afterpay is gaining almost 4 percent, WiseTech Global is adding almost 2 percent, and Appen is up more than 2 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold turned in a lackluster performance to close higher. Evolution Mining is sliding almost 2 percent and Northern Star Resources is losing more than 2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is edging up 0.4 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.780 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is higher on Friday, extending gains of the previous three sessions, with the Nikkei 225 breaking above the 29,500 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street as a report that showed initial jobless claims declined more than expected and easing bond yields stoked hopes about the economic recovery. The market continues to be driven by technology shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,488.74, up 277.10 points or 0.95 percent, after touching a high of 29,553.35 in early trades. Japanese shares closed higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding almost 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining more than 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging down 0.1 percent and Toyota is also edging lower by 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are rising more than 4 percent each. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down almost 1 percent, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down 0.3 percent.

The major exporters are mixed. Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.4 percent, Sony is gaining more than 2 percent, and Panasonic is edging up 0.5 percent, while Canon is edging down 0.3 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Cyber Agent is gaining more than 7 percent, Sumco is adding more than 6 percent, Kawasaki Heavy Industries is up more than 5 percen and IHI is rising almost 5 percent. Mitsui E&S Holdings and Taiyo Yuden t are up more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, Tokyo Fudosan Holdings and Takara Holdings are losing almost 3 percent each. Sumitomo Reality, Keisei Electric railway, Toto, Chugai Pharma and Sompo Holdings are declining more than 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 108 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, South Korea and Indonesia are gaining about 1 percent each, while Taiwan is edging up 0.3 percent. Shanghai, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong are edging down.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new record closing highs. The tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a particularly strong upward move after ending the previous session slightly lower.

The Nasdaq soared 329.84 points or 2.5 percent to 13,398.67 and the S&P 500 jumped 40.53 points 1 percent to 3,939.34. The Dow pulled back well off its best levels of the day but still closed up 188.57 points or 0.6 percent to 32,485.59.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index both rose by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures moved sharply higher on Thursday, extending the rebound seen in the previous session amid optimism about the outlook for energy demand. West Texas Intermediate jumped $1.58 or 2.45 percent to $66.02 per barrel.

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