Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday following the gains on Wall Street Friday after the release of the closely-watched U.S. monthly jobs report for July and as investors digested the Chinese central bank’s move to stabilize the yuan following recent weakness.

The U.S. Labor Department’s report showed that non-farm payroll employment climbed by less than expected in July, while the unemployment rate edged down slightly and matched economist estimates. The data reinforced expectations of gradual interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The Australian stock market is advancing following the gains on Wall Street and as a rise in metal prices boosted mining stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 25.30 points or 0.41 percent to 6,260.10, off a high of 6,270.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 24.90 points or 0.39 percent to 6,351.30.

The major miners are advancing on higher iron ore and copper prices. BHP Billiton is rising 2 percent, Fortescue Metals is higher by almost 2 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are also gaining after gold prices edged higher. Evolution Mining is up 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 1 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are up in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher despite a decrease in crude oil prices. Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.5 percent and Oil Search is adding 0.3 percent, while Santos is declining 0.6 percent.

Seek said it anticipates full-year earnings and revenue at the top end of its guidance range despite expecting to book one-time items totaling A$142 million. However, the online jobs site’s shares are losing more than 9 percent.

Packaging company Amcor has requested a trading halt, pending an announcement about an acquisition.

In economic news, Australia will see July figures for the inflation forecast from TD Securities and the Melbourne Institute today. Australia also will see July results for job ads from ANZ.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at US$0.7398, up from US$0.7360 on Friday.

The Japanese market is rising in choppy trade tracking the gains on Wall Street, while a stronger yen weighed on exporters’ shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is up 90.66 points or 0.40 percent to 22,615.84, off a high of 22,620.15 in early trades.

The major exporters are weak on a stronger yen. Panasonic is lower by almost 2 percent, Sony is declining 0.5 percent and Canon is down 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is unchanged.

In the auto space, Honda is advancing more than 1 percent.

Toyota is losing almost 1 percent after the automaker reported an increase in profit for the first quarter and said it has agreed to dissolve its twelve-year-old capital tie-up with Isuzu Motors. Shares of Isuzu Motors are higher by more than 3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is lower by 0.3 percent and Japan Petroleum is edging down 0.1 percent after crude oil prices declined on Friday.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing more than 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining almost 2 percent.

Among the market’s best performers, Pacific Metals is gaining 15 percent, NTT Data Corp. is rising more than 7 percent amid news that the company is set to merge three of its subsidiaries, while Suzuki Motor is advancing almost 4 percent after upbeat first-quarter financial results.

On the flip side, Hitachi Zosen is losing almost 7 percent, Sapporo Holdings is declining more than 6 percent and Concordia Financial is lower by almost 6 percent.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia are rising more than 1 percent each, while South Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan are also higher. Shanghai and Malaysia are edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday as traders digested the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report showing weaker than expected job growth in July, partly due to a drop in government employment and the closing of Toys “R” Us stores. The report also showed a modest decrease in the unemployment rate.

While the Nasdaq inched up 9.33 points or 0.1 percent to 7,812.01, the Dow climbed 136.42 points or 0.5 percent at 25,462.58 and the S&P 500 rose 13.13 points or 0.5 percent to 2,840.35.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.1 percent, the German DAX Index advanced by 0.6 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Friday amid renewed concerns about excess supply in the market, after data showed oil output in Russia to have increased sharply in July. WTI crude for September settled at $68.49 a barrel, down $0.47 or 0.7 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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