Asian Markets Mostly Higher With Modest Gains – Markets Insider

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(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday, though gains are modest in most markets. Dovish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and optimism about corporate earnings lifted investor sentiment. Major U.S. banks – JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo – are slated to report their earnings results later in the day.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session. Banks and oil stocks are among the leading gainers.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 27.10 points or 0.47 percent to 5,763.90, off a high of 5,771.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 28.60 points or 0.49 percent to 5,807.70.

In the banking space, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.6 percent to 0.8 percent.

Among oil stocks, Santos is rising 0.7 percent, while Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are advancing more than 1 percent each after crude oil prices advanced more than 1 percent overnight.

The major miners are mostly higher with modest gains. BHP Billiton is adding 0.3 percent and Rio Tinto is up 0.2 percent, while Fortescue Metals is edging down less than 0.1 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miner Newcrest Mining is declining almost 2 percent and Evolution Mining is losing almost 3 percent after gold prices stayed near four-month lows overnight.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar reached a four-month high against the U.S. dollar on Friday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7732, up from US$0.7711 on Thursday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher. Investors are cautious as they await the release of Japan’s final May numbers for industrial production today.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is up 30.22 points or 0.15 percent to 20,130.03, off a high of 20,163.67 earlier.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Canon is down 0.2 percent and Toshiba is losing 3 percent, while Panasonic is advancing 1 percent and Sony is adding 0.5 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is advancing almost 1 percent and Honda is up more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.6 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.5 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is rising 0.3 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is advancing 0.6 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Furukawa is rising more than 3 percent, Showa Denko is higher by 3 percent and Mitsui Mining & Smelting is advancing almost 3 percent.

On the flip side, Fast Retailing is down more than 4 percent and Sumco Corp. is losing almost 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 113 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher, while Shanghai, Indonesia and Malaysia are lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday as traders seemed reluctant to make more significant moves ahead of the release of some key economic data and earnings news on Friday. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s second day of testimony on Capitol Hill also attracted attention, with the central bank chief appearing before the Senate Banking Committee.

The Dow crept up 20.95 points or 0.1 percent to 21,553.09, the Nasdaq rose 13.27 points or 0.2 percent to 6,274.44 and the S&P 500 edged up 4.58 points or 0.2 percent to 2,447.83.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended mixed on Thursday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index crept up by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures continued to rebound Thursday, a day after data confirmed the biggest drop in U.S. inventories fell the most in ten months. August WTI climbed $0.59 or 1.3 percent to settle at $46.08 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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