Asian Markets In Positive Territory

Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Friday, with some of the markets notably higher, after President Donald Trump unveiled broad new federal guidelines for the reopening of the U.S. economy and ending the coronavirus shutdown. Investor sentiment also received a boost after a report said that a Gilead Sciences drug, remdesivir, showed promising results in treating COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, investors shrugged off data that China’s first-quarter GDP contracted by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 from a year ago.

The Australian market is notably higher. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 104.70 points or 1.93 percent to 5,521.00, off a high of 5,523.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 109.10 points or 2.00 percent to 5,576.70.

In the mining space, Rio Tinto is gaining almost 3 percent, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent and BHP is advancing almost 2 percent.

Rio Tinto reported an increase in first-quarter Pilbara iron ore output and shipments compared to the prior-year period, while they declined from the preceding fourth quarter. The company also slashed its 2020 capital expenditure and maintained its full-year production guidance for iron ore, alumina and bauxite.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 1.3 percent to 1.9 percent.

In the oil sector, Santos is rising more than 3 percent, Oil Search is higher by almost 2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing 1 percent after crude oil prices ended flat overnight.

Bucking the trend, gold miner Newcrest Mining is declining almost 2 percent and Evolution Mining is lower by more than 1 percent after safe-haven gold prices extended losses overnight.

Michael Hill International reported an 11.9 percent decrease in third-quarter revenue after it closed stores across Australia, Canada and New Zealand due to the coronavirus pandemic. The jewelry group’s shares are unchanged.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6355, up from $0.6302 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is surging. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 536.26 points or 2.78 percent to 19,826.46 after touching a high of 19,892.96 earlier.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is gaining almost 7 percent and Fast Retailing is rising more than 5 percent.

The major exporters are higher despite a stronger yen. Sony is gaining almost 3 percent and Canon is higher by more than 2 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are advancing more than 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 3 percent. Among automakers, Honda is climbing almost 7 percent and Toyota is advancing more than 2 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is down 0.3 percent, while Inpex is adding 0.3 percent after crude oil prices ended flat overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Recruit Holdings and Casio Computer are climbing almost 7 percent each, while Mineabea Mitsumi, Z Holdings and Suzuki Motor are higher by more than 6 percent each.

Conversely, Chughai Pharmaceutical is losing more than 2 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will see final February numbers for industrial production and its tertiary industry index today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 107 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea and New Zealand are rising more than 3 percent each, while Taiwan and Indonesia are higher by almost 3 percent each.

Also, Hong Kong is advancing more than 2 percent, Malaysia is adding almost 2 percent, Singapore is adding more than 1 percent and Shanghai is up almost 1 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction in the trading session on Thursday but managed to end mostly higher as U.S. President Donald Trump prepared to announce guidelines for states on reopening the country later today. In addition, the Labor Department’s report on first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits showed more than 5 million filed for unemployment for the week ended April 11, although that reflects a decrease from the more than 6 million that filed for the first time in the previous week.

While the Nasdaq surged up 139.19 points or 1.7 percent to 8,532.36, the S&P 500 rose 16.19 points or 0.6 percent to 2,799.55 and the Dow inched up 33.33 points or 0.1 percent to 23,537.68.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index crept up by 0.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices retreated after early gains on Thursday as concerns about outlook for energy demand continued to weigh. WTI crude for May ended flat at $19.87 a barrel, after moving between $19.55 and $20.53.

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