Asian Markets In Positive Territory

Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Monday as investors digested news that U.S. President Donald Trump, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week, may be discharged from hospital later today. The news eased some of the political uncertainty surrounding the U.S. presidential election in November. The markets in China remain closed for the National Day holiday.

The Australian market is notably higher amid optimism about the federal budget to be announced Tuesday. Investor sentiment received a boost following news that Trump may be discharged from hospital later today.

Worries about the coronavirus cases in Australia also eased as Victoria recorded no new coronavirus deaths on Monday and the state government announced that all students in the state will return to schools by October 26.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 130.40 points or 2.25 percent to 5,921.90, after rising to a high of 5,928.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 130.70 points or 2.18 percent to 6,113.90. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Friday.

Among the big four banks, Westpac and ANZ Banking are gaining more than 4 percent each, while National Australia Bank is rising almost 4 percent and Commonwealth Bank is higher by 3.0 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is gaining more than 6 percent, while Santos and Woodside Petroleum are higher by almost 4 percent each after crude oil prices rose in Asian trading after tumbling on Friday.

In the mining space, BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are rising more than 2 percent each.

Bucking the trend, gold miners are weak after gold prices declined on Friday. Newcrest Mining is lower by almost 1 percent and Evolution Mining is down 0.3 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from IHS Markit showed that the services sector in Australia moved into expansion territory in September, with a seasonally adjusted services PMI score of 50.8. That’s up from 49.0 in August and it moves above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The data also showed that the composite index rose to 51.1 in September from 49.4 in August.

The Japanese market is rising and the safe-haven yen weakened following news that Trump may be discharged from hospital later today.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 319.43 points or 1.39 percent to 23,349.33, after touching a high of 23,377.43.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing almost 1 percent and Fast Retailing is adding 0.6 percent.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Canon is rising more than 2 percent and Panasonic is advancing 2 percent, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are rising almost 2 percent each.

In the financial sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are higher by more than 2 percent each. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 2 percent, while Toyota Motor is adding almost 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is gaining more than 4 percent and Japan Petroleum is higher by almost 4 percent. In the tech sector, Tokyo Electron is declining more than 1 percent and Advantest is unchanged.

Japanese electronics giant NEC Corp. said it will acquire Swiss banking software developer Avaloq for 2.05 billion Swiss francs, or $2.2 billion. The company’s shares are unchanged.

Among the other major gainers, Mitsubishi Motors is climbing almost 6 percent and NTN Corp. is higher by more than 4 percent. T&D Holdings and Sumitomo Chemical are rising almost 4 percent.

On the economic front, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed that the services sector in Japan continued to contract in September, albeit at a slower pace, with a seasonally adjusted services PMI score of 46.6. That’s up from 45.0 in August, although it remains beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 105 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea and Hong Kong are rising more than 1 percent each, while Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are also higher. The markets in China remain closed for the National Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday following news that President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. The news comes just a month before Election Day and has led to additional uncertainty about the outcome of the presidential election. A report from the Labor Department showing U.S. job growth slowed by much more than anticipated September also weighed on Wall Street.

After falling by more than 400 points in early trading, the Dow briefly turned positive in mid-day trading but ended the session down 134.09 points or 0.5 percent at 27,682.81. The Nasdaq plunged 251.49 points or 2.2 percent to 11,075.02 and the S&P 500 slumped 32.36 points or 1 percent to 3,348.44.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Friday. While the German DAX Index fell by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil futures ended sharply lower on Friday, weighed down by worries about the outlook for energy demand amid reports of sharp spikes in coronavirus cases in several countries and fresh lockdown restrictions. WTI crude for November ended down $1.67 or about 4.3 percent at $37.05 a barrel. Crude oil prices rose $0.56 or 1.51 percent to $37.61 in Asian trade on Monday.

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