Asian Markets Trade Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Thursday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, amid slightly easing worries about inflation following a drop in commodity prices. Traders are also picking up stocks at a bargain after the recent sell-off due to the escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and stringent sanctions imposed on Russia. Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday.

Traders also remain optimistic amid the ongoing talks to diffuse the Russia-Ukraine crisis, with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky no longer pressing for NATO membership for Ukraine, a delicate issue that was one of Russia’s stated reasons for invading its pro-Western neighbour.

The U.K. and European Union have announced plans to reduce their dependence on Russian energy, although the moves are expected to be far less disruptive to global markets.

The Australian stock market is notably higher on Thursday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving above the 7,100 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, aided by a spike in financial, technology and gold mining stocks amid slightly easing worries about inflation following a drop in commodity prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 98.20 points or 1.39 percent 7,151.20, after touching a high of 7,161.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 100.80 points or 1.38 percent to 7,432.60. Australian markets ended sharply higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are losing more than 1 percent each, while Mineral Resources is slipping almost 3 percent, OZ Minerals is down almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is declining almost 2 percent.

Oil stocks are lower. Santos and Origin Energy are losing more than 2 percent each, while Beach Energy is plunging almost 9 percent and Woodside Petroleum is slipping almost 5 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is gaining more than 2 percent and National Australia Bank is adding more than 3 percent, while ANZ Banking and Westpac are advancing almost 3 percent each.

In the tech space, Appen and WiseTech Global are gaining more than 4 percent each, while Block is surging more than 8 percent, Zip is rising almost 6 percent and Xero is adding more than 3 percent.

Gold miners are lower. Newcrest Mining and Resolute Mining are down 4.5 percent each, while Evolution Mining is slipping almost 3 percent, Gold Road Resources is declining almost 2 percent and Northern Star Resources is losing more than 2 percent.

In other news, shares in Myer are soaring more than 20 percent after the department store said it will pay shareholders a dividend for the first time in five years despite the company’s profits falling by a quarter in the first half.

In economic news, the total number of building permits issued in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 27.9 percent on month in January, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday – coming in at 12,916. That follows the 8.2 percent increase in December. On a yearly basis, permits for private sector houses fell 29.0 percent, permits for buildings excluding houses fell 8.5 percent and total permits sank 24.1 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.731 on Thursday.

The Japanese stock market is sharply higher on Thursday, recouping some of the losses in the previous four sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 plunging 900 points to stay just above the 25,600 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, aided by a spike in across sectors, particularly, financial, technology and exporters amid slightly easing worries about inflation following a drop in commodity prices.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 25,667.85, up 950.32 points or 3.84 percent, after touching a high of 25,697.23 earlier. Japanese shares ended modestly lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 3 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is adding almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is advancing more than 4 percent and Honda is gaining almost 5 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings are gaining almost 4 percent each.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is adding more than 3 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is gaining almost 4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up 3.5 percent.

The major exporters are higher. Sony and Panasonic are surging almost 7 percent each, while Canon is adding almost 4 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 3 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Showa Denko K.K. soaring almost 11 percent and Nissan Motor is surging more than 9 percent, while Recruit Holdings and Nippon Sheet Glass are advancing more than 8 percent each. Shin-Etsu Chemical and AGC are gaining almost 8 percent each, while Suzuki Motor, Hino Motors and GS Yuasa are adding more than 7 percent each. Denso, Japan Steel Works. T&D Holdings and Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings are up almost 7 percent each.

Conversely, Pacific Motors is losing more than 5 percent.

In economic news, producer prices in Japan accelerated 9.3 percent on year in February, the Bank of Japan said on Thursday. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 8.7 percent and was up from the upwardly revised 8.9 percent in January (originally 8.6 percent). On a monthly basis, producer prices jumped 0.8 percent – again beating forecasts for 0.6 percent but unchanged from the previous month following an upward revision from 0.6 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 116 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan and South Korea are soaring 2.6 and 2.2 percent, respectively. Hong Kong, China, Singapore and New Zealand are gaining between 1.5 and 1.9 percent each. Indonesia and Malaysia are up 0.1 and 0.8 percent, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a substantial move back to the upside during trading on Wednesday after closing lower for four consecutive sessions. The major averages all moved sharply higher on the day, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq posting a standout gain.

The major averages pulled back off their highs going into the close but remained firmly positive. The Dow jumped 653.61 points or 2 percent to 33,286.25, the Nasdaq spiked 459.99 points or 3.6 percent to 13,255.55 and the S&P 500 surged 107.18 points or 2.6 percent to 4,277.88.
The major European markets also moved sharply higher on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index spiked by 3.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index skyrocketed by 7.1 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices plunged sharply on Wednesday, a day after recording their highest close in 14 years, after analysts said the U.S. and U.K. ban on Russian oil imports will be far less disruptive to global markets than a full international embargo. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended down by $15 or 12.1 percent at $108.70 a barrel.

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