Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher with notable gains on Thursday following news that Democrats have taken control of the U.S. Senate after winning two key runoff elections in Georgia. The election results raised expectations that a Democrat-controlled Senate would pave the way for a larger fiscal stimulus package in the world’s largest economy.

The Australian market is advancing after Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is higher by 100.10 points or 1.52 percent to 6,707.20, off a high of 6,707.60. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 96.70 points or 1.41 percent to 6,978.10. Australian shares closed lower on Wednesday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is climbing almost 5 percent, BHP Group is gaining more than 4 percent and Fortescue Metals is rising almost 3 percent.

In the banking sector, Westpac is rising almost 4 percent, ANZ Banking is higher by more than 3 percent, National Australia Bank is advancing more than 2 percent and Commonwealth Bank is adding almost 2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is surging more than 6 percent, Santos is rising more than 4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 3 percent after crude oil prices climbed to a more than ten-month high overnight.

Bucking the trend, gold miners are weak after gold prices fell overnight. Evolution Mining is declining more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is down 0.4 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Australia had a merchandise trade surplus of A$5.022 billion in November. That was shy of expectations for a surplus of A$6 billion and down from the downwardly revised A$6.583 billion in October.

Imports were up 10 percent on month after gaining an upwardly revised 2 percent in the previous month. Exports rose 3 percent on month, slowing from the downwardly revised 4.4 percent gain a month earlier.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics also said the total number of building permits issued in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent on month in November, coming in at 17,205. That beat expectations for a gain of 2.5 percent but was down from 3.3 percent in October. On a yearly basis, approvals were up 15.0 percent.

The Japanese market is rising despite expectations for a formal declaration by the Japanese government of a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures later today.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 429.33 points or 1.59 percent to 27,485.27, after touching a high of 27,508.71. Japanese stocks closed lower for a third straight session on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is rising almost 1 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is advancing more than 1 percent Advantest is adding 0.6 percent.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is gaining more than 4 percent, Panasonic is rising almost 4 percent, Sony is higher by more than 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.3 percent.

Among automakers, Honda is advancing more than 1 percent and Toyota is up 0.6 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is higher by more almost 5 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising more than 3 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Hitachi Zosen is climbing more than 12 percent, Dai-ichi Life Holdings is gaining more than 9 percent, T&D Holdings is rising more than 8 percent and Hino Motors is higher by almost 7 percent.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is rising more than 2 percent, while Singapore and New Zealand are rising more than 1 percent each. Indonesia and Taiwan are advancing almost 1 percent each. Shanghai is also higher, while Malaysia is declining more than 1 percent and Hong Kong is edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday as traders reacted to the results of the highly anticipated Georgia runoff elections. The jump by the Dow came as Democratic control of the House, Senate and White House is seen as a positive for cyclical stocks due to the likelihood of additional fiscal stimulus. Stocks moved to the downside going into the close of trading as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. capitol building as lawmakers began the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

While the Nasdaq slid 78.17 points or 0.6 percent to 12,740.79, the Dow jumped 437.80 points or 1.4 percent to 30,829.40 and the S&P 500 climbed 21.28 points or 0.6 percent to 3,748.14.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all showed strong moves to the upside on Wednesday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index spiked by 3.5 percent, the German DAX Index surged up by 1.8 percent and the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled at a more than ten-month high on Wednesday after data showed a drop in U.S. crude inventories last week, and Saudi Arabia said it would significantly reduce its production in the next two months. WTI crude for February advanced $0.70 or about 1.4 percent to $50.63 a barrel.

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