(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are broadly higher on Thursday despite the mixed cues from Wall Street, with resource stocks advancing on higher commodity prices. Optimism about global economic growth and strong corporate earnings results also boosted investor sentiment. Crude oil prices extended gains in Asian trades after rising almost 3 percent overnight.
The Australian market is advancing, reflecting gains in mining and oil stocks on the back of higher commodity prices. Investors are also digesting production results of mining giant BHP Billiton as well as some other mining and oil companies.
In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 34.20 points or 0.58 percent to 5,895.60, off a high of 5,902.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 31.50 points or 0.53 percent to 5,987.80.
In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 3 percent and Rio Tinto is adding more than 2 percent, reflecting higher nickel, aluminium, copper and zinc prices.
BHP Billiton lowered its full-year iron ore production guidance due to unexpected dumper car maintenance after reporting an 8 percent increase in third-quarter iron ore production. The mining giant’s shares are also rising more than 3 percent.
Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is up 0.3 percent.
Evolution Mining narrowed its full-year production outlook range after reporting an increase in gold production in the March quarter.
Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices rose almost 3 percent overnight. Oil Search is advancing more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum rising more than 2 percent.
Santos reported lower production in the March quarter and also cut its full-year production guidance after it was forced to shut down production at its facilities in Papua New Guinea following an earthquake in February. The company’s shares are edging down less than 0.1 percent.
In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent. National Australia Bank is edging down less than 0.1 percent.
Australian Pharmaceutical Industries reported a 14 percent fall in half-year net profit, while revenues edged down 0.3 percent. Shares of the pharmacies operator and health and beauty products retailer are declining almost 2 percent.
On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the jobless rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 5.5 percent in March. That was in line with expectations and unchanged from the February reading following a downward revision from 5.6 percent.
The Australian economy added 4.900 jobs last month to 12,484,100 – well shy of estimates for an increase of 20,000 following the increase of 17,500 in the previous month.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday, thanks to higher commodity prices. The local unit was trading at US$0.7791, up from US$0.7759 on Wednesday.
The Japanese market is extending gains from the previous session, following the mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, higher commodity prices and a weaker yen.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 167.23 points or 0.75 percent to 22,325.43, off a high of 22,360.65 earlier.
The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is gaining more than 2 percent, Canon is rising 0.4 percent, Panasonic is higher by 0.2 percent and Sony is edging up less than 0.1 percent.
Among the major automakers, Toyota is adding almost 1 percent, while Honda is up 0.1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising more than 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is advancing more than 1 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is adding almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is rising almost 3 percent after the overnight surge in crude oil prices.
Among the market’s best performers, Sumitomo Metal Mining is gaining almost 8 percent and Pacific Metals is higher by more than 5 percent on higher commodity prices, while Kansai Electric is rising almost 5 percent.
On the flip side, Tokai Carbon is losing almost 5 percent, while Nichirei Corp. and Subaru Corp. are down more than 2 percent each.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 107 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are rising more than 1 percent each. Shanghai, South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday in choppy trading amid a mixed reaction to quarterly results from several big-name companies. Traders also seemed somewhat reluctant to continue buying stocks amid uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.
The Dow dipped 38.56 points or 0.2 percent to 24.748.07, while the Nasdaq rose 14.14 points or 0.2 percent to 7,295.24 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.25 points or 0.1 percent to 2,708.64.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.3 percent.
Crude oil futures continued to rise Wednesday, surging to their highest since December 2014 after U.S. oil inventories dwindled. Crude for May delivery spiked $1.95 or 2.9 percent to $68.47 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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