Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Thursday following the record gains overnight on Wall Street amid optimism about the economic recovery and on hopes of additional U.S. stimulus. Data showing that China’s services sector continued to expand in August also lifted investor sentiment.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session after Wall Street closed at record highs overnight. Investors shrugged off data showing that Australia’s construction sector continued to contract in August.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 39.80 points or 0.66 percent to 6,103.00, after rising to a high of 6,117.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 39.70 points or 0.64 percent to 6,291.50. Australian stocks closed higher on Wednesday.

In the banking space, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are higher in a range of 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding almost 1 percent.

In the tech sector, Afterpay is rising 0.6 percent and Appen is adding 0.3 percent, while WiseTech Global is losing almost 3 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is declining more than 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is edging up 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly lower after crude oil prices fell overnight. Santos and Oil Search are declining more than 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is lower by 0.4 percent.

Gold miners are weak after gold prices declined sharply overnight. Evolution Mining is lower by more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is losing almost 1 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Australia posted a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade surplus of A$4.607 billion in July. That was shy of expectations for A$5.4 billion and down from A$8.202 billion in June.

Exports were down A$1.604 billion or 4.0 percent on month to A$34.496 billion. Imports gained A$1.939 billion or 7.0 percent on month to A$29.890 billion.

The latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the construction sector in Australia continued to contract in August, and at a faster pace, with a Performance of Construction Index score of 37.9. That’s down from 42.7 and it moves farther beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The Japanese market is rising, tracking a weaker yen as well as the record gains overnight on Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 184.78 points or 0.79 percent to 23,431.93, after touching a high of 23,580.51 earlier. Japanese stocks closed higher on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is down 0.4 percent, while Fast Retailing is rising more than 3 percent.

SoftBank Corp., the mobile phone unit of SoftBank Group, is adding 0.3 percent following news that it will be added to the Nikkei 225 Index.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Canon is advancing more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.5 percent, while Sony is declining 0.4 percent and Panasonic is down 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are higher by more than 1 percent each. In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising 0.5 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is up 0.2 percent.

Among automakers, Honda is higher by almost 1 percent and Toyota is up 0.3 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is lower by 0.5 percent, while Japan Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent after crude oil prices fell overnight.

Among the major gainers, Sky Perfect JSAT is gaining more than 10 percent, while Shin-Etsu Chemical and Suzuki Motor are rising almost 4 percent each.

Conversely, Yamato Holdings is losing almost 3 percent and Cyberagent is lower by almost 2 percent.

On the economic sector, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed that the services sector in Japan continued to contract in August, and at a slightly faster pace, with services PMI score of 45.0. That’s down from 45.4 in July and it moves farther beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the composite index climbed to 45.2 from 44.9 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, South Korea, Shanghai, Taiwan and New Zealand are also higher, while Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia are lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Wednesday, extending gains from the previous session as traders continue to express optimism about the economy recovering from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, although some analysts have suggested the markets may be getting ahead of themselves. Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from payroll processor ADP showing much weaker than expected private sector job growth in the month of August.

The Dow spiked 454.84 points or 1.6 percent to 29,100.50, the Nasdaq jumped 116.78 points or 1 percent to 12,056.44 and the S&P 500 surged up 54.19 points or 1.5 percent to 3,580.84.

The major European markets also moved sharply higher on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index spiked by 2.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.9 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.4 percent.

Crude oil futures settled sharply lower on Wednesday despite a steep drop in U.S. crude inventories last week, as worries about a drop in gasoline demand and data showing a surge in oil production by OPEC members weighed on prices. WTI crude for October delivery slumped $1.25 or about 2.9 percent to $41.51 a barrel.

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