Asian Markets Track Wall Street Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders react to the improved outlook for interest rates after the US Fed paused its interest rate hikes following ten consecutive rate hikes. They also await the Bank of Japan’s rate decision later in the day. Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday.

The Australian stock market is notably higher on Friday, extending the gains in the previous four sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving above the 7,200 level, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, with gains across most sectors, led by miners and technology stocks. Energy stocks were also strong amid the spike in crude oil prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 43.50 points or 0.61 percent to 7,218.80, after touching a high of 7,221.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 46.60 points or 0.63 percent to 7,416.60. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, Mineral Resources is gaining more than 3 percent and BHP Group is edging up 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are losing almost 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Santos is gaining almost 2 percent, Beach energy is up almost 1 percent and Woodside Energy is adding more than 1 percent, while Origin Energy is edging down 0.3 percent.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay owner Block and WiseTech Global are gaining almost 2 percent each, while Appen is surging more than 6 percent, Zip is adding more than 1 percent and Xero is advancing more than 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac and National Australia Bank are edging up 0.2 to 9.3 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is gaining almost 1 percent. ANZ Banking is flat.

Gold miners are strong. Gold Road Resources is gaining almost 3 percent, Newcrest Mining is adding almost 1 percent and Resolute Mining is advancing more than 2 percent, while Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining are up 1.5 percent each.

In other news, shares in AGL are soaring almost 14 percent after the energy giant upgraded its profit outlook for the full-year 2023. It also said it is on track to double its profit next year amid higher wholesale electricity prices and improved performance at generating plants.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.687 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is notably lower on Friday, extending the losses in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying just above 33,300 levels, despite the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders cautiously await the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy decision later in the day as they also book profits after the recent market rally.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 33,305.96, down 179.53 points or 0.54 percent, after hitting a low of 33,186.93 earlier. Japanese stocks closed slightly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.3 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing more than 2 percent and Toyota is down almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are losing more than 1 percent each, while Screen Holdings is declining more than 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are edging up 0.2 to 0.4 percent each.

Among major exporters, Canon is gaining more than 3 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 1 percent, Sony is declining more than 2 percent and Panasonic is slipping almost 2 percent.

There are no other major losers.

Conversely, Olympus and Shiseido are gaining more than 3 percent each, while Resonac Holdings is adding almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan will wrap up its monetary policy meeting on Friday and then announce its decision on interest rates. The BoJ is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.10 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 140 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea Indonesia are higher by between 0.2 and 0.6 percent each, while Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia are lower by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Thursday following the mixed performance seen in the previous session. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 once again reached their best closing levels in over a year, while the Dow set to a six-month closing high.

The major averages pulled back off their highs of the session going into the close but held on to strong gains. The Dow shot up 428.73 points or 1.3 percent to 34,408.06, the Nasdaq jumped 156.34 points or 1.2 percent to 13,782.82 and the S&P 500 surged 53.25 points or 1.2 percent to 4,425.84.

Meanwhile, the major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index dipped by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil prices rose sharply Thursday, buoyed by reports suggesting a jump in demand from Chinese refineries and additional stimulus from the Chinese central bank. The dollar’s weakness also contributed to the jumped in oil prices. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures ended higher by $2.35 or 3.4 percent at $70.62 a barrel.

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