Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Thursday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street as investors continued to await the outcome of the U.S. presidential election. Investors are bracing for the prospects of Joe Biden as President and a divided Congress, which is likely to dim chances of tough financial regulations and higher taxes.
The Australian market is rising, led by tech stocks and banks, following the overnight gains on Wall Street. Investors also digested news that biotechnology company Novavax has a reached a deal with Australian government to supply 40 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 59.00 points or 0.97 percent to 6,121.10, after touching a high of 6,116.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 59.90 points or 0.96 percent to 6,324.90. Australian stocks ended little changed on Wednesday.
In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 1 percent to 1.9 percent, while ANZ Banking is down 0.2 percent.
National Australia Bank reported a 46.7 percent fall in full-year earnings, while its cash earnings for the period dropped 36.6 percent.
In the tech sector, Afterpay is rising almost 3 percent, while WiseTech Global and Appen are higher by more than 1 percent each.
Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is lower by more than 1 percent and BHP Group is declining almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 1 percent.
Gold miners are mixed. Newcrest Mining is down more than 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is adding 0.2 percent.
Oil stocks are weak even as crude oil prices gained overnight. Oil Search is losing more than 1 percent, Santos is lower by almost 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.6 percent.
On the economic front, Australia will release September figures for imports, exports and trade balance today.
The Japanese market is extending gains from the previous session following the positive cues from Wall Street.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 232.01 points or 0.98 percent to 23,927.27, after touching a high of 23,976.50 earlier. Japanese shares closed notably higher on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is rising more than 4 percent, while Fast Retailing is down 0.4 percent.
In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are rising more than 4 percent each after their U.S. peers gained overnight.
The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Sony is advancing more than 2 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are declining more than 2 percent each.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is lower by more than 1 percent and Toyota is down 0.3 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Olympus and Ajinomoto Co. are gaining almost 6 percent each, while Shionogi & Co., Daiichi Sankyo and Chugai Pharmaceutical are higher by more than 5 percent each.
Conversely, Ricoh Co. is losing 10 percent, Mitsubishi Chemical is lower by more than 7 percent and Mitsubishi Motors is tumbling almost 6 percent.
On the economic front, Japan will see final October results for the services and composite indexes from Jibun Bank today.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 104 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is gaining more than 2 percent and Singapore is rising almost 2 percent, while South Korea and Indonesia are advancing more than 1 percent each. Shanghai, New Zealand, Taiwan and Malaysia are also higher.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Wednesday as traders reacted to the results of the U.S. elections on Tuesday, which have yet to reach a definitive conclusion. Democratic candidate Joe Biden is currently in the lead in the race for the presidency, with the latest projections giving the former vice president 248 electoral college votes. However, President Donald Trump has called for a recount in Wisconsin and filed to halt counting of ballots in Michigan, suggesting the outcome of the race could be still be up for grabs.
The Dow jumped 367.63 points or 1.3 percent to 27,847.66, the Nasdaq spiked 430.21 points or 3.9 percent to 11,590.78 and the S&P 500 surged up 74.42 points or 2.2 percent to 3,443.44.
The major European markets all showed strong moves to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 2.4 percent, the German DAX Index soared by 2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index shot up by 1.7 percent.
Crude oil prices rose sharply on Wednesday, buoyed by data showing a drop in crude inventories in the week ended October 30. WTI crude for December ended higher by $1.49 or about 4 percent at $39.15 a barrel.
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