(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are mostly higher in thin trade, as some of the markets in the region are closed on Friday for holidays. Investor sentiment was bolstered by the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and data showing that China’s manufacturing sector continued to expand in August.
Nevertheless, investors are cautious as they await the release of U.S. jobs data for the month of August later in the day.
The latest survey from Caixin revealed that the manufacturing sector in China continued to expand in August, and at a faster rate, with a manufacturing PMI score of 51.6. That’s up from 51.1, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
The Australian market drifted lower amid cautious trades. Weakness in banks and miners offset gains by gold miners, healthcare and oil stocks.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 5.60 points or 0.10 percent to 5,708.90, after rising to a high of 5,734.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 5.30 points or 0.09 percent to 5,771.00.
In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent.
In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is losing more than 2 percent and BHP Billiton is declining 0.4 percent, while Rio Tinto is rising 0.2 percent.
BHP Billiton has raised the amount it plans to spend under its U.S. bond buy back plan to $2.94 billion from $2.5 billion earlier.
Gold miners are advancing after gold prices jumped higher overnight. Newcrest Mining is gaining almost 2 percent and Evolution Mining is higher by more than 2 percent.
Oil stocks are also higher after crude oil prices rose almost 3 percent overnight. Oil Search and Santos are advancing almost 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.3 percent.
Among healthcare stocks, CSL, ResMed and Healthscope are higher in a range of 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent.
CIMIC Group said its mining unit Theiss has won a three year extension to its contract at a coal mine in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan and expects another A$300 million in revenue. However, the construction and contract mining giant’s shares are down 0.3 percent.
On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the manufacturing sector in Australia expanded for the eleventh straight month in August, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 59.8.
That’s up from 56.0 in July, and it represents the highest index reading since 2002. It also moves farther above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
Australia will also see the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Commodity Price Index today.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7947, up from US$0.7901 on Thursday.
The Japanese market is modestly higher following the positive lead overnight from Wall Street. Nevertheless, investors are cautious as they digest a raft of local economic data and also await the release of U.S. jobs data for the month of August later in the day.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 45.50 points or 0.23 percent to 19,691.74, off a high of 19,735.96 in early trades.
Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 3 percent, Sony is advancing almost 1 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.2 percent, while Canon is down almost 1 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota is edging down less than 0.1 percent, while Honda is up 0.5 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging down less than 0.1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.4 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is rising 0.5 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is advancing almost 1 percent after the nearly 3 percent surge in crude oil prices.
Among the other major gainers, Yamaha is rising more than 3 percent, while Showa Denko and Toho Zinc are up more than 2 percent each.
On the flip side, Fujikura is losing more than 3 percent and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone is down more than 2 percent.
In economic news, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in August, and at a faster rate, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.2. That’s up from 52.1, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
The Ministry of Finance said that capital spending in Japan advanced just 1.5 percent in the second quarter of 2017. That missed forecasts for a gain of 7.9 percent following the 4.5 percent increase in the first quarter.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Friday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan and New Zealand are also higher, while South Korea is edging lower. The markets in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are closed on Friday for Eid-ul-Adha.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday following the release of a slew of U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report showing a bigger than expected increase in personal income. The Labor Department released a separate report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits edged slightly higher in the week ended August 26.
The Dow rose 59.92 points or 0.3 percent to 21,952.35, the Nasdaq jumped 60.35 points or 1 percent to a new record closing high of 6,428.66, and the S&P 500 climbed 14.02 points or 0.6 percent to 2,471.61.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.6 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures surged Thursday, taking back recent losses after the U.S. Energy Department’s release of 1 million barrels a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. October WTI rose $1.27 or 2.8 percent to settle at $47.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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