Asian Markets In Positive Territory

Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Monday ahead of the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy decision due later in the day, with investors expecting the central bank to announce more stimulus measures to combat the economic woes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sentiment also received a boost following news that Italy, Spain and France, countries that were the hardest hit in Europe by the coronavirus, plan to reopen their economies following a slowdown in new virus cases.

The Australian market has recovered after declining following weak earnings results from National Australia Bank.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 13.10 points or 0.25 percent to 5,255.70, after rising to a high of 5,285.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is 24.40 points or 0.46 percent to 5,325.10. Australian stocks closed higher on Friday.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 2.1 percent to 3.3 percent.

National Australia Bank reported a 51 percent fall in net profit and cash earnings for the first half of the year, slashed its interim dividend and launched a capital raising of A$3.5 billion. The bank’s shares are in a trading halt.

In the oil sector, Santos is lower by 0.7 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.5 percent while Oil Search is adding 0.4 percent even as crude oil futures gained on Friday.

In the mining space, BHP is declining 0.6 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.4 percent, while Rio Tinto is adding 0.4 percent.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Evolution Mining is lower by more than 1 percent and after safe-haven gold prices declined on Friday.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6387, compared to $0.6356 on Friday.

The Japanese market is rising as investors look ahead to the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy decision due later in the day.

The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.10 percent, although it may introduce other means of stimulus to combat the economic woes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 333.01 points or 1.73 percent to 19,595.01, after rising to a high of 19,616.06 earlier. Japanese shares closed lower on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising almost 3 percent and Fast Retailing is higher by almost 2 percent.

The major exporters are higher despite a stronger yen. Canon is rising 3 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is higher by more than 1 percent, while Sony and Panasonic are advancing almost 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining more than 7 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is adding 0.5 percent and Toyota is up 0.4 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Fanuc is gaining more than 11 percent and Screen Holdings is rising more than 5 percent. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Taiyo Yuden, and NH Foods are all higher by more than 4 percent each.

MUFG Bank, the banking unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, plans to cut its workforce by about 8,000 employees, up from its earlier planned reduction of 6,000 employees, according to Kyodo News, citing a source close to the matter.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 107 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong are all advancing more than 1 percent each, while Shanghai, Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher. The New Zealand market is closed for the ANZAC Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks retreated after opening higher on Friday after data showed a sharp fall in durable goods orders in the month of March and the University of Michigan’s report showed a deterioration in consumer sentiment in April. However, stocks climbed higher after President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion stimulus package that will replenish a fund for small-business lending and direct money to hospitals and efforts to ramp up U.S. testing capacity in the fight against COVID-19. The sharp jump in crude oil prices also lifted the market.

The Dow ended up 260.01 points, or 1.11 percent, at 23,775.27, the S&P 500 rose 38.94 points, or 1.39 percent to 1,836.74 and the Nasdaq settled up 139.77 points, or 1.65 percent at 8,634.52.

The major European markets ended notably lower on Friday as worries about coronavirus pandemic rose following a report that said the drug remdesivir from Gilead failed in its first randomized clinical trial. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended down 1.28 percent, France’s CAC 40 shed 1.3 percent and Germany’s DAX lost 1.69 percent.

Crude oil prices gained on Friday, but still ended the week with a big loss due to lingering worries about the outlook for energy demand. WTI crude for June ended up $0.44 or 2.7 percent at $16.94 a barrel.

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