Asian Markets Higher After Upbeat U.S. Jobs Data

asian markets.jpg

Asian stock markets are rising on Monday as risk appetite improved following the strong gains on Wall Street Friday after the release of upbeat U.S. jobs data for the month of February and as geopolitical tensions eased.

The U.S. Labor Department said that non-farm payroll employment surged up by 313,000 jobs in February, the biggest gain since mid-2016. Meanwhile, the annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings slowed, easing worries about faster interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

The Australian market is advancing following the strong gains on Wall Street and as Australia was exempted from U.S. President Donald Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. In addition, firmer commodity prices lifted resources stocks.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 46.80 points or 0.78 percent to 6,010.00, off a high of 6,026.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 45.60 points or 0.75 percent to 6,114.70.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is adding 0.4 percent.

Oil stocks are also rising after crude oil prices gained more than 3 percent. Oil Search and Santos are adding almost 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is advancing almost 2 percent.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank - are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 1 percent.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is adding almost 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is losing more than 4 percent after the company said that a dam wall breach at its NSW goldmine will "adversely impact guidance".

McGrath's shares are losing more than 1 percent after the embattled property group lowered its full-year underlying earnings outlook by half, due to the impact of reduced sales volumes.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher, despite a stronger U.S. dollar, on support from industrial commodity prices. The local unit was quoted at US$0.7860, up from US$0.7795 on Friday.

In economic news, Australia will see January results for credit card purchases and balances today.

The Japanese market is rising, tracking the gains on Wall Street following the release of better-than-expected U.S. jobs data and on improved risk appetite as geopolitical tensions eased after U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 364.41 points or 1.70 percent to 21,833.61, off a high of 21,971.16 earlier.

The major exporters are mostly higher. Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are gaining almost 3 percent each, while Canon is adding 2 percent. Sony is losing more than 1 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is rising more than 2 percent and Honda is advancing almost 3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is higher by 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining more than 2 percent.

Steel maker Japan Steel Works is rising more than 3 percent and Nippon Steel is adding more than 2 percent, recovering from losses in the previous session after Trump announced U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

In the oil space, Inpex is gaining almost 3 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is adding more than 4 percent after crude oil prices rose on Friday.

Among the market's best performers, Eisai Co. is gaining more than 6 percent, Kubota Corp. is higher by almost 5 percent and Okuma Corp. is rising more than 4 percent.

On the flip side, Comsys Holdings is declining more than 1 percent and Nichirei Corp. is down almost 1 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will release Q1 numbers for the BSI manufacturing index, plus preliminary February numbers for machine tool orders today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 106 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all advancing more than 1 percent each. Shanghai, New Zealand Indonesia and Malaysia are also higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply higher on Friday with the tech-heavy Nasdaq closing higher for the sixth straight session after the Labor Department released a report showing much stronger than expected job growth in February. The markets also benefited from easing geopolitical concerns amid news President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The Dow jumped 440.53 points or 1.8 percent to 25,335.74, the Nasdaq spiked 132.86 points or 1.8 percent to 7,560.81 and the S&P 500 surged up 47.60 points or 1.7 percent to 2,786.57.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Friday. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rallied Friday on data showing the U.S. rig count dropped for the first time in seven weeks. April WTI crude oil soared $1.92 or 3.2 percent to $62.04 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.