Asian Markets Trading Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Tuesday, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, amid easing concerns about the economic impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. While Omicron seems to be more transmissible, the new strain purportedly causes milder symptoms and could accelerate the end of the pandemic. Asian stocks ended mostly lower in thin holiday trade on Monday.

Meanwhile, traders remain concerned about the pace of the economic recovery from the pandemic amid fears of fresh disruptions across supply chains globally following tighter restrictions in Europe.

According to reports, airlines across the world cancelled nearly 8,000 flights over the three-day Christmas weekend due to the spread of the Omicron variant, flight delays and cancellations related to staff shortages. Several cruise ships had to cancel stops after outbreaks on-board.

Britain, where Omicron is the dominant variant, has been reporting more than 100,000 cases in a single day. France has also reported cases above that figure for the first time. China reported its highest daily rise in local Covid-19 cases in 21 months over the weekend, pushing regions into lockdowns and tighter social restrictions. The new coronavirus Omicorn variant has also spread to more than 108 countries.

The Australian stock market is closed on Tuesday for a holiday as a substitute holiday for Christmas Day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index closed Friday’s trading session at 7,420.30, up 32.70 points or 0.44 percent, after touching a high of 7,435.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index closed at 7,744.70, up 37.20 points or 0.48 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.723 on Tuesday.

The Japanese stock market is trading significantly higher on Tuesday, recouping the losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei index just below the 29,000 mark, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, with strength in most sectors amid easing concerns about the economic impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,952.76, up 276.30 points or 0.96 percent, after touching a high of 29,121.01 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Honda is adding more than 1 percent and Toyota is gaining almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is adding almost 2 percent, Tokyo Electron is gaining more than 2 percent and Screen Holdings is up more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.5 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.2 percent and Mizuho Financial is up almost 1 percent.

The major exporters are higher. Panasonic is gaining 1.5 percent, Canon is adding almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is up more than 1 percent and Sony is advancing more than 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Konami Holdings, Olympus and Shinsei Bank are gaining almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, there were no major losers.

In economic news, the unemployment rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.8 percent in November, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Tuesday. That missed expectations for 2.7 percent, which would have been unchanged from the October reading. The jobs-to-applications ratio was 1.15, unchanged from the previous month but shy of expectations for 1.16. The participation rate was 62.0 – unchanged and in line with forecasts.

Meanwhile, industrial production in Japan climbed a seasonally adjusted 7.2 percent on month in November, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Tuesday. That beat expectations for an increase of 4.8 percent and was up from the 1.8 percent gain in October. On a yearly basis, industrial production improved 5.4 percent – again topping forecasts for a gain of 2.5 percent following the 4.1 percent contraction in the previous month. Upon the release of the data, the METI upgraded its assessment of industrial production, saying that it now showing signs of an upward movement.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 114 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.6 percent each, while China and Hong Kong are down 0.1 and 0.4 percent, respectively. New Zealand market is closed for Boxing Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher during trading on Monday, adding to the strong gains posted last week. With the continued upward move, the S&P 500 reached a new record closing high.

The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reached new highs going into the close of trading. The Dow jumped 351.82 points or 1 percent to 36,302.38, the Nasdaq spiked 217.89 points or 1.4 percent to 15,871.26 and the S&P 500 surged 65.40 points or 1.4 percent to 4,791.19.

The major European markets also closed mostly higher on the day. While the U.K. markets were closed for a holiday, the French CAC 40 Index advanced 0.8 percent and the German DAX Index rose 0.5 percent.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher Monday amid hopes the Omicron variant will not any significantly impact global economic recovery. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February ended up by $1.78 or 2.4 percent at $75.57 a barrel.

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