Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday as surging commodity prices and weaker than expected US job growth in April allayed fears about higher inflation, interest rates and a cutback in stimulus. Asian markets closed mixed on Friday.

However, the upside is limited amid the continued surge in daily coronavirus cases in the region, particularly in Japan and India, as well as the related lockdowns in economic activity in several markets.

The Australian stock market is significantly higher on Monday, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 well above the 7,100 level at near record highs, as the continued surge in commodity prices helped lift materials, mining and energy stocks. The cues were also broadly positive from Wall Street on Friday

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 73.50 points or 1.04 percent to 7,154.30, after touching a high of 7,167.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 75.50 points or 1.03 percent to 7,400.70. Australian stocks closed marginally higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are gaining almost 3 percent each, while Mineral Resources is adding almost 4 percent and Fortescue Metals is up more than 5 percent.

Oil stocks are higher, with oil Search and Santos gaining almost 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.2 percent.

The big four banks are higher. National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are adding almost 1 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay is gaining almost 2 percent, while WiseTech Global is losing more than 1 percent and Appen is down more than 2 percent.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices climbed on Friday. Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Evolution Mining is adding more than 3 percent.

In other news, shares in A2 Milk are plummeting more than 21 percent to 4-year lows after its English-label infant formula sales for the third quarter through its Chinese channels fell 57 percent from last year, with earnings also projects to drop 11 to 12 percent, more than previous forecasts.

Casino giants Crown Resorts and Star and rival Star Entertainment after confirming a $12 billion merger proposal between the two. Crown shares are up almost 7 percent and Star Entertainment is soaring more than 8 percent.

Shares in DXN are surging almost 8 percent after the data centre operator struck two new significant deals, with an agreement to build a cable landing station on the Cocos Keeling Islands for the Oman Australia Cable (OAC) in a deal worth $650,000, and a contract worth $350,000 to supply a prefabricated data centre in Honiara, Solomon Islands.

In economic news, the total value of retail sales in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 1.3 percent on month in March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, coming in at A$30.699 billion. That follows the 0.8 percent drop in February. On a yearly basis, retail sales climbed 2.2 percent. In the first quarter of 2021, retail sales fell 0.5 percent and gained 4.7 percent on year at A$86.393 billion.

Australia’s business confidence index surged to a record high of 26 in March, up 9 points from the prior month, survey data from National Australia Bank showed Tuesday, with confidence improving across all industries. That’s the highest reading in more than two decades.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.784 on Monday.

Japanese stock market is significantly higher on Monday, extending the gains of the previous two sessions, with the Nikkei 225 above the 29,600 level, following broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday. However, the upside is limited as traders continue to be worried about the rising daily coronavirus cases and the related third state of emergency extended in some areas.

According to reports, Japan recorded the third straight day of more than 6000 daily coronavirus infections on Sunday amid the spread of the more contagious variants.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,603.69, up 245.87 points or 0.84 percent, after touching a high of 29,685.41 earlier. Japanese shares ended marginally higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 2 percent and Toyota is adding almost 2 percent.

The major exporters are higher, with Sony adding more than 4 percent and Panasonic gaining almost 2 percent, while Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are up more than 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging down 0.4 percent and Screen Holdings is losing almost 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is gaining almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is adding more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are gaining almost 1 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, Pacific Metals is gaining almost 8 percent, Ricoh is adding almost 7 percent and Toho Zinc is uo more than 5 percent. Daiichi Sankyo, Minebea Mitsumi, JFE Holdings, Showa Denko and Yamaha are adding almost 5 percent each. Nippon Steel and JXTG Holdings are up more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, DeNA is losing more than 9 percent and Daiichi Sankyo is down almost 3 percent. Tota and Seven & I Holdings is declining almost 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 108 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is up 1.4 percent, while China, Hong Kong and Malaysia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.6 percent. Meanwhile, New Zealand, Taiwan and Singapore are bucking the trend and are lower by between 0.1 and 0.5 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Friday, extending the upward move seen in the previous session. With the continued advance, the Dow and the S&P 500 both ended the session at new record closing highs.

The major averages all ended the day firmly in positive territory. The Dow rose 229.23 points or 0.7 percent to 34,777.76, the Nasdaq advanced 119.40 points or 0.9 percent to 13,752.24 and the S&P 500 climbed 30.98 points or 0.7 percent to 4,232.60.

The major European markets all also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index surged up by 1.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Friday on optimism for increased demand in Europe and the U.S. although gains were capped by coronavirus concerns in Asia. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for June ended up $0.19 or 0.3 percent at $64.90 a barrel. WTI crude futures gained about 2.1 percent in the week.

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