Asian Markets Track Wall Street Higher


Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, as the markets reacted positively to earnings-driven rally among US technology stocks and offset lingering concerns about the U.S. banking sector. Asian markets ended mostly higher on Thursday.

Traders now await the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge later in the day for hints on when the Federal Reserve might consider pausing interest rate rises.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Friday, recouping the losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving above the 7,300 level, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, with gains in technology stocks which mirrored their peers on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 19.40 points or 0.27 percent to 7,312.10, after touching a high of 7,329.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 20.30 points or 0.27 percent to 7,502.50. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, Mineral Resources and Rio Tinto are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.2 percent. BHP Group is flat.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Energy and Origin Energy are edging down 0.1 to 0.3 percent each, while Santos is losing almost 1 percent. Beach energy is edging up 0.3 percent.

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

Among the big four banks, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are all gaining almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are mixed. Gold Road Resources is losing more than 1 percent, Evolution Mining is edging down 0.4 percent and Northern Star Resources is declining more than 2 percent, while Resolute Mining is advancing more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is up almost 1 percent.

In economic news, private sector credit in Australia was up 0.3 percent on month in March, the Reserve Bank of Australia said on Friday, easing from 0.4 percent in the previous month. On a yearly basis, credit was up 6.8 percent.

Housing credit was up 0.3 percent on month and 5.5 percent on year, while personal credit fell 0.3 percent on month and was flat on year and business credit gained 0.4 percent on month and 10.6 percent on year. Broad money was up 0.6 percent on month and 6.8 percent on year.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.663 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly higher on Friday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 moving above the 28,600 level, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders braced for the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy decision due later today, with the central bank expected to keep all of its policy levers unchanged.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,656.19, up 198.51 points or 0.70 percent, after touching a high of 28,735.81 earlier. Japanese stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining 1.5 percent and Toyota is adding more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 2 percent, while Screen Holdings is down more than 1 percent. Tokyo Electron is flat.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is gaining almost 1 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are edging up 0.1 to 0.4 percent each.

Among major exporters, Canon, Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are edging up 0.1 to 0.5 percent each, while Panasonic is edging down 0.5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Mitsui E&S is skyrocketing more than 13 percent, Kansai Electric Power is soaring more than 11 percent, Kikkoman is surging almost 9 percent, Fuji Electric is advancing more than 7 percent and GS Yuasa is gaining more than 5 percent, while Astellas Pharma and Nippon Paper Industries are adding more than 3 percent each. Chugai Pharmaceutical, Denso, Shimizu and Japan Exchange Group are rising almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Shin-Etsu Chemical is losing almost 6 percent and Toyota Tsusho is slipping more than 5 percent, while Hitachi and Keyence are down more than 4 percent each. Fujitsu is declining almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the jobless rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.8 percent in March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC) said on Friday. That was well above forecasts for an increase of 2.5 percent and up from 2.6 percent in February. The participation rate was 62.6 percent, beating forecasts for 62.4 percent and up from 62.1 percent a month earlier.

The MIAC also said overall consumer prices in the Tokyo region of Japan were up 3.5 percent on year in April. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 3.1 percent and was up from 3.3 percent in March. Core CPI, which excludes the volatile prices of food, also rose an annual 3.5 percent. That topped forecasts for an increase of 3.2 percent, which would have been unchanged from the previous month.

Industrial production in Japan was up 0.8 percent on month in March, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Friday. That topped forecasts for an increase of 0.5 percent following the 4,6 percent spike in February. On a yearly basis, industrial output sank 0.7 percent – roughly in line with expectations after shedding 0.5 percent in the previous month.

Upon the release of the data, the METI upgraded its assessment of industrial production, saying that it is showing signs of increasing at a moderate pace.

The METI also said The total value of retail sales in Japan was up 7.2 percent on year in March, coming in at 14.567 trillion yen. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 5.8 percent following the 7.3 percent gain in February. On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, retail sales added 0.6 percent – slowing from 2.1 percent in the previous month. For the first quarter of 2023, retail sales gained 2.6 percent on quarter and 6.5 percent on year at 39.781 trillion yen.

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

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 133 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher by between 0.6 and 0.9 percent each, while South Korea is up 0.1 percent. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading session on Thursday, with the major averages all showing significant moves to the upside after ending Wednesday’s trading mixed. The tech-heavy Nasdaq led the advance, adding to yesterday’s gain.

The major averages pulled back off their highs of the session going into the close but held on to strong gains. The Nasdaq soared 287.89 points or 2.4 percent to 12,142.24, the S&P 500 surged 79.36 points or 2.0 percent to 4,135.35 and the Dow jumped 524.29 points or 1.6 percent to 33,826.16.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged line and the French CAC 40 Index crept up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices climbed higher on Thursday, supported by data showing a drop in crude inventories in the U.S. last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for June ended higher by $0.46 or 0.6 percent at $74.76 a barrel.

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