Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday after U.S. stocks extended gains overnight as investors kept an eye on the latest news regarding the U.S. presidential election and the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged at near-zero levels.

A divided government with Democratic nominee Joe Biden as President and Republicans controlling the Senate is seen as likely to dim chances of tough financial regulations and higher taxes.

The Australian market is extending gains from the previous session following the gains on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 22.90 points or 0.37 percent to 6,162.50, after touching a high of 6,202.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 25.50 points or 0.40 percent to 6,369.50. Australian stocks closed at a more than one-week high on Thursday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are advancing almost 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are notably higher after gold prices hit a seven-week high overnight. Evolution Mining is gaining more than 5 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising more than 3 percent.

The big four banks are mixed. Westpac is rising 0.2 percent and National Australia Bank is adding 0.1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are down 0.6 percent each.

Macquarie Group reported a 32 percent fall in first-half net profit and declared a lower interim dividend compared with a year ago. However, shares of the investment bank and asset manager are advancing more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower after crude oil prices declined overnight. Santos and Woodside Petroleum are down 0.6 percent each, while Oil Search is higher by almost 1 percent.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the services sector in Australia swung to expansion in October, with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Service Index score of 51.4. That’s up sharply from 36.2 in September and it moves above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The Japanese market is rising for a third straight day on Friday following the overnight gains on Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 150.65 points or 0.62 percent to 24,255.93, after touching a low of 24,039.16 in early trades. Japanese shares closed at a more than two-year high on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is up 0.3 percent, while Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.1 percent.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Canon is advancing almost 1 percent and Panasonic is edging up 0.1 percent, while Sony is lower by 0.3 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.2 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising 0.2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is up 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are advancing more than 1 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, Nippon Sheet Glass is gaining almost 10 percent, Kobe Steel is rising almost 9 percent and Eisai Co. is higher by almost 8 percent.

Conversely, Furukawa Electric is tumbling almost 12 percent, Mitsui Fudosan is losing more than 6 percent and Sumco Corp. is lower by more than 4 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was down 10.2 percent on year in September, coming in at 269,863 yen. That beat forecasts for a decline of 10.7 percent following the 6.9 percent drop in August.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 103 yen-range on Friday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Thursday as traders kept an eye on the latest news regarding the presidential election. With projected wins in Michigan and Wisconsin, Democratic nominee Joe Biden currently sits at 253 electoral college votes, just shy of the 270 needed to win the White House. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve today left interest rates unchanged at near-zero levels.

The Dow jumped 542.58 points or 2 percent to 28,390.24, the Nasdaq spiked 300.15 points or 2.6 percent to 11,890.93 and the S&P 500 surged up 67.01 points or 2 percent to 3,510.45.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index spiked by 2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Thursday, snapping a three-day winning streak, as rising coronavirus cases and the delay in outcome of the U.S. Presidential election weighed on the commodity. WTI crude for December settled with a loss of $0.36 or about 0.9 percent at $38.79 a barrel.

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