Asian Markets Exhibit Mixed Trend

Asian stock markets are turning in a mixed performance on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve revealed plans to continue its asset purchase program and U.S. lawmakers made progress toward a $900 billion coronavirus relief deal. Nevertheless, worries about the continued surge in global coronavirus cases and lockdown measures weighed on the markets.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session following the mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street. In addition, upbeat Australian employment data for November boosted sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 36.30 points or 0.54 percent to 6,715.50, after touching a high of 6726.40. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 41.90 points or 0.61 percent to 6,958.60. Australian stocks closed higher on Wednesday.

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

In the banking sector, ANZ Banking is rising more than 1 percent, while National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent.

Gold miners are edging higher after gold prices extended gains overnight. Newcrest Mining is higher by 0.3 percent and Evolution Mining is up 0.2 percent.

Oil stocks are also higher after crude oil prices rose for a third straight session overnight. Santos is advancing more than 1 percent, Woodside Petroleum is adding almost 1 percent and Oil Search is up 0.4 percent.

Crown Resorts said it will go ahead with the December opening of its new Sydney complex and commence non-gaming operations as the gaming regulator has withheld a casino license. In addition, a temporary liquor license will enable the company to run a hotel, restaurants and bars at the Sydney complex. Shares of Crown Resorts are down 0.2 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the unemployment rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 6.8 percent in November, beating expectations for 7.0 percent, which would have been unchanged.

The Australian economy added 90,000 jobs last month, blowing away forecasts for an increase of 50,000 jobs following the addition of 178,800 jobs in October.

The Japanese market is little changed in choppy trading following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 5.85 points or 0.02 percent to 26,763.25, after falling to a low of 26,676.28 earlier. The Japanese market closed higher on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 3 percent, while Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is rising almost 2 percent, while Advantest is down 0.1 percent.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Sony is rising more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is adding almost 1 percent, while Canon is declining more than 1 percent and Panasonic is down almost 1percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is up 0.2 percent, while Honda is lower by 0.6 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is unchanged.

Convenience store operator Lawson will close about 85 stores across Japan over the year-end and New year holidays, Kyodo News reported, citing sources close to the matter. Shares of Lawson are declining more than 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Nexon Co. is rising more than 5 percent, while Shionogi & Co. and Japan Post Holdings are higher by more than 4 percent each. Mitsubishi Materials is advancing almost 4 percent.

Citing people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reported that Japan Post Holdings’ insurance unit plans to buy back about 300 billion yen of shares from its parent company.

Conversely, Isetan Mitsukoshi and Mitsui E&S Holdings are losing more than 4 percent each, while Fujifilm Holdings, NGK Insulators and J Front Retailing are lower by almost 4 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 103 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hong Kong are also higher, while South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan are lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced its widely expected decision to leave interest rates unchanged, while also revealing plans to continue its asset purchase program until the economy shows substantial progressed towards the central bank’s goals of maximum employment and price stability. Earlier in the day, traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves as they weighed optimism about a new fiscal stimulus bill against disappointing retail sales data.

While the Dow dipped 44.77 points or 0.2 percent to 30,154.54, the Nasdaq climbed 63.13 points or 0.5 percent to 12,658.19 and the S&P 500 rose 6.55 points or 0.2 percent to 3,701.17.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index surged up by 1.5 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.9 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices extended gains to a third straight session on Wednesday amid vaccine rollouts and optimism about fiscal stimulus in the U.S. WTI crude for January ended up $0.20 or about 0.4 percent at $47.82 a barrel.

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