Asian Markets Rise Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Data

Asian stock markets are higher on Friday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street on upbeat corporate earnings results and continued optimism about easing COVID-19 restrictions. A continued decrease in the number of new jobless claims in the U.S. also boosted sentiment.

Investors now look ahead to the release of the U.S. jobs data for the month of April later today. Employment is expected to plunge by about 22 million jobs in April, driving the unemployment rate up to 14.0 percent.

The Australian market is advancing after two days of losses.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 49.50 points or 0.92 percent to 5,413.70, after touching a high of 5422.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 57.10 points or 1.05 percent to 5,507.00. Australian stocks closed modestly lower on Thursday.

In the oil sector, Santos is higher by more than 3 percent, while Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are rising more than 2 percent each even as crude oil prices declined overnight.

In the mining space, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are rising more than 2 percent, while BHP is advancing more than 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 1.1 percent to 1.4 percent, while National Australia Bank is adding almost 1 percent.

Gold miners are mixed despite a surge in gold prices overnight. Newcrest Mining is adding more than 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.6 percent.

News Corp. reported a loss for the third quarter after taking a hefty impairment charge against its Foxtel and News America Marketing assets. The media giant’s shares are rising more than 2 percent.

Telstra said it will incur an impairment charge of A$300 million on its 35 percent stake in pay TV network Foxtel after News Corp., the majority owner of Foxtel, wrote down its value. The company’s shares are down 0.2 percent.

AMP said it has abandoned a decision to its divest its New Zealand wealth management operations due to the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it will retain and grow the business. The company’s shares are higher by more than 2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6501, compared to $0.6454 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is rising following the overnight gains on Wall Street. Investors shrugged off data that showed Japan’s services sector continued to contract in April.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 319.85 points or 1.63 percent to 19,994.62, after touching a high of 20,088.94 earlier. Japanese shares rose modestly on Thursday as trading resumed after the Golden Week holidays.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 3 percent and Fast Retailing is higher by more than 2 percent.

The major exporters are higher despite a slightly stronger yen. Sony is higher by more than 2 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are rising almost 2 percent each. Canon is adding 0.6 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising almost 3 percent, while Tokyo Electron is down almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 3 percent and Toyota is adding more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is higher by more than 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum is down 0.2 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the other major gainers, JTEKT Corp. and Okuma Corp. are rising more than 6 percent each, while Alps Alpine is gaining almost 5 percent. Yamaha Corp., NSK, Unitika and Mitsubishi Estate are all higher by more than 4 percent each.

On the flip side, Dena Co. and M3 are lower by more than 3 percent each, while Tokai Carbon is declining more than 2 percent.

The latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed that the services sector in Japan continued to contract in April, and at a much more severe rate, with a record-low services PMI score of 21.5. That’s down sharply from 33.8 in March and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was down 6.0 percent on year in March, coming in at 292,214 yen. That exceeded expectations for an annual decline of 6.7 percent following the 0.3 percent drop in February.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 106 yen-range on Friday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq closing in positive territory for 2020 amid continued optimism about the U.S. economy at least partially reopening in the near future. News that a coronavirus vaccine being developed by Moderna has been given FDA approval for a phase 2 trial added to the positive sentiment. Traders also digested data from the Labor Department showing a continued decrease in the number of new claims for unemployment benefits.

The Dow advanced 211.25 points or 0.9 percent to 23,875.89, the Nasdaq surged up 125.27 points or 1.4 percent to 8,979.66 and the S&P 500 jumped 32.77 points or 1.2 percent to 2,881.19.

The major European markets all showed strong moves upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.5 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index both jumped by 1.4 percent.

After rising sharply on data showing a jump in China’s crude imports, crude oil prices retreated and ended sharply lower on Thursday amid concerns about U.S.-China trade tensions. WTI crude futures declined $0.44 or 1.8 percent at $23.55 a barrel.

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