Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday following the positive cues from Wall Street Friday in a volatile session and on higher commodity prices. Optimism as more countries reopen their economies following coronavirus-induced lockdowns and hopes of more global stimulus measures also lifted stocks.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 62.00 points or 1.15 percent to 5,466.80, after touching a high of 5,477.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 68.00 points or 1.24 percent to 5,560.80. Australian stocks closed higher on Friday.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is gaining almost 5 percent, Santos is rising more than 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by more than 2 percent after crude oil prices jumped almost 7 percent on Friday.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices extended gains to a fourth session on Friday. Newcrest Mining is gaining more than 5 percent and Evolution Mining is rising more than 4 percent.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 3 percent, BHP is rising almost 3 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing more than 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent.

National Australia Bank said its customer support team will start check-ins with customers on about 80,000 home loans who have received a repayment pause to help them through the impact of COVID-19.

Elders reported a half-year net profit that surged from last year, helped by its acquisition of wholesaler Australian Independent Rural Retailers. The agribusiness and property group’s shares are higher by almost 5 percent.

Village Roadshow said it is in talks with private equity firm BGH Capital to be acquired for between $429.4 million and A$468.5 million. The cinema and theme park owner’s shares are climbing more than 13 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6423, compared to Friday’s close of $0.6462.

The Japanese market is modestly higher in a volatile session. Investor sentiment was dampened after data showed that the Japanese economy slipped into a recession in the first quarter.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 57.87 points or 0.29 percent to 20,095.34, after touching a low of 19,999.10 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is up 0.4 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a slightly weaker yen. Sony is losing more than 2 percent, while Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are declining 0.6 percent each. Panasonic is advancing almost 2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is declining 3 percent, following their U.S. peers lower. Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.5 percent and Honda is up 0.4 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is gaining more than 7 percent and Inpex is advancing more than 2 percent after crude oil prices rose almost 7 percent on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, M3 Inc. is gaining more than 9 percent, Nissan Chemical is rising more than 7 percent and Takara Holdings is higher by more than 5 percent.

On the flip side, Screen Holdings is falling almost 13 percent, Japan Post Holdings is losing more than 8 percent and Showa Denko is lower by almost 7 percent.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said in Monday’s preliminary report that Japan’s gross domestic product shrank a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent on quarter in the first quarter of 2020. That exceeded expectations for a 1.2 percent drop following the 1.8 percent decline in the previous three months.

Japan is also scheduled to release March numbers for its tertiary industry index today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Monday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher in a volatile session on Friday as traders shrugged off the release of some dismal U.S. economic data, including reports showing record decreases in retail sales and industrial production in the month of April. The Commerce Department said retail sales cratered by 16.4 percent in April after tumbling by a revised 8.3 percent in March. A separate report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production plummeted by 11.2 percent in April after tumbling by a revised 4.5 percent in March.

After slumping by more than 270 points in early trading, the Dow rose 60.08 points or 0.3 percent to 23,685.42. The Nasdaq advanced 70.84 points or 0.8 percent to 9,014.56 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.20 points or 0.4 percent to 2,863.70.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Friday, extending recent gains, amid hopes on some improvement in energy demand following reopening of businesses in several parts across the globe, and on hopes the output cuts from major producers will support prices. WTI crude futures for June ended up $1.87 or about 6.8 percent at $29.43 a barrel.

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