Asian Markets In Positive Territory

Asian stock markets are higher on Monday with strong gains following the rally on Wall Street Friday as upbeat U.S. jobs data for the month of December and optimism about U.S.-China trade talks starting later today bolstered investor sentiment.

Risk appetite also got a boost after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell noted the U.S. central bank will be patient with monetary policy as it watches the economy evolve and as China’s central bank cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks by 1 percent on Friday.

The Australian market is notably higher following the rally on Wall Street. Investors shrugged off data showing a contraction in Australia’s manufacturing sector for the first time in more than two years. Mining, oil and bank stocks are among the major gainers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 93.20 points or 1.66 percent to 5,712.60, just off a high of 5,712.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 95.00 points or 1.67 percent to 5,772.00. The Australian market recouped early losses, but still closed lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is rising more than 3 percent, Rio Tinto is advancing almost 3 percent and Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are higher after a nearly 2 percent increase in crude oil prices on Friday. Santos is higher by more than 4 percent, Oil Search is gaining more than 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing almost 2 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 1.5 percent to 1.8 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miner Newcrest Mining is declining almost 1 percent and Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent after gold prices declined on Friday.

Shares of Healius, formerly known as Primary Health Care, are losing more than 3 percent after the hospital operator rejected a A$2.02 billion takeover bid from Jangho Hong Kong Holdings, its largest shareholder.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the US dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7122, up from $0.7023 on Friday.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australia Industry Group revealed that the manufacturing sector in Australia slipped into contraction in December, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 49.5.

That’s down from 51.3 in November, and it falls beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. It’s also the first time in 26 months that the index has failed to expand.

The Japanese market is surging after U.S. stocks rebounded Friday. In addition, exporters’ shares were bolstered by a weaker yen.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 631.48 points or 3.23 percent to 20,193.44, off a high of 20,266.22 earlier. Japanese shares fell sharply on Friday in the first trading session of 2019.

Among the major exporters, Sony is gaining almost 5 percent, Panasonic is rising more than 4 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is adding 4 percent and Canon is higher by almost 4 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is gaining almost 6 percent and Tokyo Electron is up more than 6 percent.

Among the major automakers, Honda is advancing almost 4 percent and Toyota is rising more than 3 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are advancing almost 3 percent each. In the oil space, Inpex is advancing almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is rising almost 3 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Tokai Carbon is gaining more than 9 percent and Toho Zinc is higher by almost 9 percent. Showa Denko, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Pacific Metals are all rising almost 8 percent each.

On the flip side, FamilyMart UNY Holdings is losing almost 4 percent.

On the economic front, the latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in December, albeit at a slower pace, with a PMI score of 51.0. That’s down from 52.3 in November, although it remains above the boom-of-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The Nikkei also said its composite index slipped to a reading of 52.0 in December, down from 52.4 in the previous month.

The Bank of Japan said that the monetary base in Japan was up just 4.8 percent on year in December, coming in at 504.2 trillion yen. That was well shy of forecasts for 5.8 percent and down sharply from 6.1 percent in November.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 108 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan is rising more than 2 percent, while South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong are all advancing more than 1 percent each. Shanghai, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher.

On Wall Street, stocks rebounded on Friday, reflecting a positive reaction to a Labor Department report showing much stronger than expected job growth in the month of December. Positive sentiment was also generated after China’s Commerce Ministry said China and the U.S. would hold vice-ministerial level trade talks in Beijing next week.

The Dow surged up 746.94 points or 3.3 percent to 23,433.16, the Nasdaq soared 275.35 points or 4.3 percent to 6,738.86 and the S&P 500 spiked 84.05 points or 3.4 percent to 2,531.94.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all showed strong moves to the upside on Friday. While the German DAX Index spiked by 3.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index shot up by 2.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices ended sharply higher on Friday, extending gains to a fifth successive session, after stronger than expected U.S. jobs data and an encouraging report on Chinese services sector activity eased concerns about global growth and energy demand prospects. WTI crude for February rose $0.87 or 1.9 percent to close at $47.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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