Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday following the overnight rebound in the U.S. and European markets, as massive relief packages announced by global central banks and governments to ease the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic boosted investor sentiment. The Japanese market is closed for a holiday.

After the Federal Reserve's fiscal stimulus and the European Central Bank's asset purchase scheme launch on Wednesday, the Bank of England cut its interest rate for the second time this month and expanded its bond buying scheme, extending further support to the UK economy amid the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.

Meanwhile, China left its benchmark lending rates unchanged on Friday, defying expectations for a reduction as economic activity faces severe downturn after the outbreak of COVID-19.

The Australian stock market is rising, led by banking and oil stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 136.70 points or 2.86 percent to 4,919.60, after rising to a high of 4,965.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 140.20 points or 2.92 percent to 4,949.60.

In the oil space, Santos and Oil Search are gaining more than 15 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is rising almost 6 percent and after crude oil prices skyrocketed overnight.

The big four banks are also up with strong gains. National Australia Bank is climbing more than 7 percent, Westpac is higher by almost 7 percent, ANZ Banking is gaining almost 6 percent and Commonwealth Bank is rising almost 4 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is higher by more than 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is rising almost 1 percent and BHP is adding 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are also higher after gold prices edged up overnight. Newcrest Mining is advancing almost 3 percent and Evolution Mining is adding more than 1 percent.

Telstra said it will freeze its job cutting program for six months, suspend late payment fees and disconnections, and hire 1,000 temporary staff to help offset the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the telecom giant's shares are losing 3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.5681, down from $0.5689 on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan is gaining more than 5 percent, South Korea is rising almost 4 percent, Hong Kong is advancing almost 3 percent and Malaysia is adding more than 2 percent. Singapore is higher by more than 1 percent and Shanghai is modestly higher.

Meanwhile, Indonesia is losing more than 3 percent and New Zealand is modestly lower. The Japanese market is closed for the Vernal Equinox holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday after coming under pressure early in the session. Worries about the outlook for energy demand subsided thanks to massive relief packages announced by global central banks and governments. The Bank of England cut the bank rate for the second time in March and expanded its bond buying scheme.

The Dow jumped 188.27 points or 1 percent to 20,087.19, the Nasdaq surged up 160.73 points or 2.3 percent to 7,150.58 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.29 points or 0.5 percent to 2,409.39.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index spiked by 2.7 percent, the German DAX Index jumped by 2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.4 percent.

Crude oil prices skyrocketed on Thursday, earning the front month futures contracts their biggest single-day gains in percentage terms, as worries about outlook of energy demand subsided a bit thanks to massive relief packages announced by global central banks and governments. WTI crude for April ended up $4.85 or 23.8 percent at $25.22 a barrel.



by WooHoo Ireland


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