Asian Markets Higher After Powell’s Upbeat Comments
Asian stock markets, led by Japan, are higher on Wednesday following the positive cues from Wall Street after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell gave a positive outlook of the U.S. economy in his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee and reiterated that gradually raising interest rates is “the best way forward.” Investors also digested upbeat corporate earnings results.
The Australian market is rising following the gains on Wall Street. Upbeat full-year production results from mining giant BHP Billiton also lifted stocks.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 49.30 points or 0.79 percent to 6,252.90, off a high of 6,256.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 48.50 points or 0.77 percent to 6,336.90.
In the mining space, BHP Billiton is rising more than 3 percent, Rio Tinto is advancing almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is higher by 0.7 percent despite lower copper, aluminium and nickel prices.
BHP Billiton reported a 3 percent increase in iron ore production for 2018, helping the company to exceed its downwardly revised full-year guidance.
In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are advancing in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.
Commonwealth Bank’s Bankwest unit will close 29 branches along Australia’s east coast and cut 200 jobs as customers increasingly shift to using mobile banking.
Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices remained steady overnight. Santos is adding more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by 0.5 percent, while Oil Search is losing 2 percent.
Gold miners are mixed after gold prices fell to a one-year low overnight. Evolution Mining is adding more than 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is down almost 2 percent.
Publishing rivals Fairfax Media and News Corp. have agreed to use each other’s printing networks under a deal that will deliver cost savings, with Fairfax expecting to save about A$15 million a year. Shares of Fairfax Media are gaining almost 3 percent.
In economic news, Australia will on Wednesday release June results for the leading economic index from Westpac.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at US$0.7386, down from US$0.7431 on Tuesday.
The Japanese market is extending gains to a fourth day, following the positive cues on Wall Street and on a weaker yen.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 223.37 points or 0.98 percent to 22,920.73, off a high of 22,949.32 earlier. Japanese shares hit a one-month high on Tuesday.
The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 2 percent, Panasonic is rising more than 1 percent, Sony is adding 0.2 percent and Canon is edging up 0.1 percent.
In the auto sector, Honda is adding more than 1 percent and Toyota is rising almost 2 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 0.2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding almost 1 percent.
Among oil stocks, Inpex is losing almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is declining more than 1 percent even as crude oil prices were flat overnight.
Among the market’s best performers, Taiyo Yuden and Minebea Mitsumi are gaining almost 5 percent each, while Tokuyama Corp. is rising almost 4 percent.
On the flip side, Tokai Carbon is losing more than 3 percent, while Tokyo Dome and Japan Tobacco are down more than 2 percent each.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 112 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all higher, while New Zealand is modestly lower.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell offered few surprises in his semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee. In his prepared remarks, Powell said the U.S. economy has grown at a solid pace so far this year and noted the latest data suggests economic growth in the second quarter was “considerably stronger” than in the first quarter.
The Dow rose 55.53 points or 0.2 percent to 25,119.89, the Nasdaq advanced 49.40 points or 0.6 percent to 7,855.12 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.12 points or 0.4 percent to 2,809.55.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures recovered after early weakness to end slightly higher on Tuesday, amid reports about a likely drop in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. Crude oil futures for August ended at $68.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $0.02.
by RTTNews Staff Writer
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