Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Thursday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street and as traders looked to snap up stocks at a bargain following the recent sell-off. Concerns about the China Evergrande situation also eased after it unveiled plans to settle debt with a Chinese bank. The upside may be limited by weakness from the oil and technology stocks. Asian markets closed mostly lower on Wednesday.

The Australian stock market is significantly higher on Thursday, recouping some of the losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,300 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, led by strong gains in mining and financial stocks. Traders also looked to snap up stocks at a bargain after the sell-off in the past two days.

Traders remain concerned about the domestic coronavirus situation, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria, which is hindering economic activity as two of the largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, are still under lockdown.

NSW has reported 941 new local cases of COVID-19 and six deaths on Wednesday. Victoria reported a record 1,438 new locally acquired cases and five deaths, with active cases now totalling 11,018 across the state.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 97.30 points or 1.35 percent to 7,294.00, after touching a high of 7,304.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 94.10 points or 1.26 percent to 7,594.30. Australian markets ended significantly lower on Wednesday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto is gaining more than 1 percent and BHP Group is adding almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals and Mineral Resources are edging up 0.4 percent each. OZ Minerals is edging down 0.4 percent.

Oil stocks are higher. Beach Energy is gaining almost 4 percent, Woodside Petroleum is adding more than 1 percent and Origin Energy is up almost 1 percent, Oil Search is rising almost 2 percent and Santos is up 1.5 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is gaining more than 1 percent, while National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are adding almost 2 percent each.

In the tech space, Xero is edging down 0.2 percent, while Afterpay is edging up 0.2 percent and Appen is gaining almost 1 percent. WiseTech Global is flat. Zip is adding almost 3 percent after it inked a deal with technology giant Microsoft to integrate its payment technology into the browser web Microsoft Edge.

Gold miners are lower. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are edging down 0.4 percent, while Northern Star Resources is down almost 2 percent, and Gold Road Resources is losing more than 5 percent. Resolute Mining is flat.

In economic news, the total number of building approvals issued in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 6.8 percent on month in August, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday – coming in at 18,716. That blew away forecasts for a decline of 5.0 percent following the 8.6 percent drop in July. On a yearly basis, building approvals spiked 31.2 percent.

Additionally, private sector credit in Australia was up 0.6 percent on month in August, the Reserve Bank of Australia said on Thursday – slowing from 0.7 percent in July. On a yearly basis, private sector credit jumped 4.7 percent – up from 4.0 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.720 on Thursday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly lower on Thursday, extending the losses in the previous three sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 above the 29,400 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, as the Nation is set to emerge from six months of pandemic restrictions that has battered the economy, even as the domestic coronavirus situation remains a concern.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,439.37, down 104.92 points or 0.36 percent, after hitting a low of 29,311.34 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is gaining more than 2 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is losing almost 3 percent and Honda is down more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Screen Holdings are losing more than 2 percent each, while Tokyo Electron is declining more than 3 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are losing more than 1 percent each, while Mizuho Financial is flat.

The major exporters are lower. Sony and Canon are losing more than 1 percent each, while Panasonic is declining almost 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.5 percent.

Among the other major losers, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is losing more than 10 percent, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Nippon Yusen K.K. and Tokyo Electric Power are down almost 9 percent each. Toho Zinc is declining almost 5 percent, while Tokai Carbon and Mitsui E&S Holdings are lower by almost 4 percent each. Taiyo Yuden and JFE Holdings are losing more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Nippon Electric Glass is gaining 8.5 percent and Shionogi & Co. is up 4.5 percent, while East Japan Railway and West Japan Railway are adding more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the value of industrial output in Japan was down a seasonally adjusted 4.3 percent on month in August, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Thursday. That missed expectations for a decline of 0.5 percent following the 1.5 percent contraction in July. On a yearly basis, industrial production advanced 9.3 percent – beating forecasts for a gain of 8.0 percent after rising 11.6 percent in the previous month.

Additionally, the value of retail sales in Japan was down a seasonally adjusted 4.1 percent on month in August, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Thursday. That missed expectations for a decline of 2.0 percent following the 1.0 percent gain in July. On a yearly basis, retail sales dropped 3.2 percent – also shy of expectations for a fall of 1.0 percent after rising 2.4 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 111 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, , New Zealand, China, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea are higher by between 0.2 and 0.9 percent each. Hong Kong and Malaysia are bucking the trend and are down 0.8 and 0.5 percent, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Wednesday, after ending the previous session sharply lower. The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq edging down to a new two-month closing low.

The Dow and the S&P 500 came under pressure going into the close but held on to modest gains. While the Nasdaq dipped 34.24 points or 0.2 percent to 14,512.44, the Dow rose 90.73 points or 0.3 percent to 34,390.72 and the S&P 500 inched up 6.83 points or 0.2 percent to 4,359.46.

The major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent each.

Crude oil futures settled lower Wednesday, weighed by a stronger dollar and a surge in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for November eased by $0.46 or 0.6 percent at $74.83 a barrel.

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