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Asian Markets Mostly Higher With Modest Gains

by January 19, 2018 General

(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday with modest gains despite the negative lead from Wall Street amid concerns about a possible U.S. government shutdown. Optimism about upbeat corporate earnings and global economic growth after China’s economic expansion exceeded the government’s 2017 target has boosted investor sentiment.

The Australian market edged lower after opening higher despite the negative cues overnight from Wall Street amid concerns about a possible U.S. government shutdown. Gains by oil stocks were offset by weakness in mining and banking stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 4.00 points or 0.07 percent to 6,010.60, after rising to a high of 6,028.70 in early trades. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 4.80 points or 0.08 percent to 6,125.60. Australian shares finished marginally lower on Thursday.

The major miners are mostly lower after iron ore prices dipped overnight. Rio Tinto is down 0.5 percent and Fortescue Metals is lower by 0.4 percent, while BHP Billiton is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are mixed as gold prices were flat. Newcrest Mining is losing more than 2 percent, while Evolution Mining is adding 0.4 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.4 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding 0.2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is rising 0.2 percent, Santos is adding 0.5 percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing 0.7 percent after crude oil prices were flat overnight.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar rose above the US$0.80 level following positive economic news from China. In early trades, the local unit was quoted at US$0.8008, up from US$0.7954 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is modestly higher despite the weak lead overnight from Wall Street and a stronger yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 59.49 points or 0.25 percent to 23,822.86, off a high of 23,872.69 earlier.

The major exporters are higher despite a stronger yen. Panasonic is adding 0.3 percent, Canon is up 0.5 percent, Sony is rising 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 2 percent. Nintendo is gaining almost 4 percent.

SoftBank Group is down 0.5 percent despite news that a group of investors led by the company has become Uber’s largest shareholder after closing a deal with the ride-hailing company on Thursday.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ are higher by more than 1 percent each. Among automakers, Honda is adding 0.6 percent and Toyota is rising 0.2 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is up 0.3 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is adding 0.2 percent.

Among the market’s best performers, Tokuyama Corp is rising more than 5 percent, while Asahi Group and Tosho Corp. are gaining more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Oki Electric and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings are losing more than 3 percent each, while Mitsui Chemicals is down almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 111 yen-range on Friday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday partly reflecting concerns about a potential U.S. government shutdown, with a deadline to pass a spending bill looming today. Profit taking may also have contributed to the pullback by stocks, with some traders cashing on the recent run to record highs.

The Dow shed 97.84 points or 0.37 percent to 26,017.81, while the Nasdaq lost 2.23 points or 0.03 percent to 7,296.05, and the S&P 500 fell 4.53 points or 0.16 percent to 2,798.03.

The major European markets ended with small gains on Thursday. The DAX of Germany climbed 0.74 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 0.02 percent, while the FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 0.32 percent.

Crude oil prices were flat Thursday amid speculation the fossil fuel is overbought near three-year highs. February WTI oil edged down $0.02 to $63.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.