Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday amid continued optimism that a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech will enable a quick economic recovery. The optimism helped offset worries about the surge in coronavirus cases worldwide.

The Australian market is advancing, extending gains to a fifth day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is up 77.40 points or 1.22 percent to 6,417.90, after touching a high of 6,431.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 76.50 points or 1.17 percent to 6,620.50. Australian stocks closed higher on Tuesday.

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

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is rising more than 2 percent, while National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac are higher in a range of 1.6 percent to 1.2 percent.

Commonwealth Bank reported a 16 percent decrease in cash earnings for the first quarter, but said its balance sheet remained strong.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is declining almost 1 percent ahead of its annual general meeting today.

Meanwhile, gold miners are extending losses despite a rebound in gold prices overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 3 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 2 percent.

In the tech sector, Appen is lower by more than 2 percent and Afterpay is declining more than 1 percent, while WiseTech Global is adding almost 1 percent.

The Japanese market is also higher, extending gains to a seventh day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 280.81 points or 1.13 percent to 25,186.40, after touching a high of 25,230.22 earlier. Japanese shares closed a choppy session higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is declining more than 1 percent, while Fast Retailing is advancing more than 2 percent.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 3 percent, Panasonic is advancing more than 2 percent and Sony is adding 0.6 percent, while Canon is declining almost 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are advancing more than 2 percent each. Among automakers, Toyota is rising more than 2 percent and Honda is adding almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is higher by almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is up almost 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Dena Co. is climbing almost 13 percent, Taiheiyo Cement is gaining more than 12 percent, Casio Computer is rising more than 11 percent and Unitika is higher by more than 6 percent.

Conversely, Nexon Co. is tumbling almost 12 percent, Dai Nippon Printing is losing more than 3 percent and NEC Corp. is lower by almost 3 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will see October numbers for machine tool orders today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 105 yen-range on Wednesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday as traders continued to cycle out of tech stocks that benefited from the coronavirus pandemic and into cyclical stocks that struggled. The shift comes as upbeat news about a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech has generated optimism business may return to normal next year. Traders also kept an eye on the latest developments in Washington, as President Donald Trump continues to refuse to concede to Joe Biden.

While the Dow advanced 262.95 points or 0.9 percent to 29,420.92, the S&P 500 edged down 4.97 points or 0.1 percent to 3,545.53 and the Nasdaq tumbled 159.93 points or 1.4 percent to 11,553.86.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index has climbed by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index spiked by 1.6 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Tuesday, extending gains from the previous session, as optimism over a potential coronavirus vaccine continued to outweigh worries about the energy demand outlook. WTI crude for December ended up $1.07 or about 2.7 percent at $41.36 a barrel.

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