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 January 31, 2016 - 12:10 PM EST
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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Monday, extending gains from the previous session after the Bank of Japan's surprise decision to introduce negative interest rates. The rebound in crude oil prices also lifted investor sentiment. Meanwhile, data showed that activity in

China's
vast manufacturing sector continued to contract in January.

Meanwhile, the latest survey from Caixin revealed that

China's
manufacturing sector continued to contract in January, although at a slower pace, with a PMI score of 48.4. That topped forecasts for a reading of 48.1, and it was also up from 48.2 in December - although it continued to be beneath the boom-or-bust like of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Another survey from

China's
National Bureau of Statistics also showed that the country's manufacturing sector continued to contract in January, but at a faster rate, with a PMI score of 49.4. That was shy of forecasts for 49.6, and it was down from 49.7 in December.

The Australian market is advancing, following the gains on Wall Street after the Bank of Japan's surprise decision to introduce negative interest rates and also buoyed by higher crude oil prices.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index is adding 50.10 points or 1.00 percent to 5,055.60, off a high of 5,059.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 47.10 points or 0.93 percent to 5,103.70.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is adding 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent. Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is adding almost 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.7 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is rising almost 1 percent, while Santos is down 0.4 percent.

Woodside Petroleum said its recently announced writedowns of up to $1.2 billion had taken into account possible delays at the Wheatstone LNG project in

Western Australia
. Shares of the company are up 0.4 percent.

The big four banks are also mixed. Westpac Banking and Commonwealth Bank are declining 0.3 percent each, while National Australia Bank is higher by 0.6 percent and ANZ Banking is adding more than 1 percent.

Drug developer Invion said its chief executive Greg Collier will take over as interim chairman following the resignation of Brett Heading from the board. Shares of the company are down 20 percent.

Drug developer Novogen's new CEO James Garner said he expects the company to start recruiting patients for trials of cancer drug Cantrixil by the end of 2016. Shares of the company are unchanged.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the manufacturing sector in

Australia
continued to expand in January, albeit at a slightly slower pace, with a PMI score of 51.5. That's down from 51.9 in December, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

The latest forecast for TD Securities showed that consumer prices are projected to rise 2.3 percent on year in January. That's up from the 2.0 percent forecast for December.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the

U.S.
dollar on Monday after Bank of Japan took its interest rate into negative territory. In early trades, the local unit was trading at $0.7082, up from Friday's close of $0.7125.

The Japanese market is notably higher, extending gains from the previous session after the Bank of Japan's surprise decision on Friday to introduce negative interest rates.

Real estate companies are leading the gainers on hopes that they will benefit from negative interest rates. Additionally, a weaker yen lifted exporters' stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 219.36 points or 1.25 percent to 17,737.66, off a high of 17,821.37 in early trades.

Among the major exporters, Toshiba is higher by 3 percent, Panasonic is adding more than 1 percent, Casio Computer is rising more than 5 percent and Canon is up by 0.8 percent. Sony is advancing almost 11 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing more than 6 percent, Shinsei Bank is down 9 percent and Resona Holdings is lower by 7 percent.Meanwhile, Dai-ichi Life Insurance is losing almost 11 percent.

Oil stocks Inpex is edging up 0.09 percent and JX Holdings is adding almost 1 percent.

Toyota said it will stop production at its car plants in

Japan
for six days starting February 8 due to steel shortage following an explosion at one of its affiliates' steel plants. Shares of the automaker are gaining more than 1 percent.

Shares of construction company Haseko Corp. and real estate developer Mitsui Fudosan are gaining more than 5 percent each, while Tokyo Tatemono is adding more than 4 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from Nikkei showed that the manufacturing sector in

Japan
continued to expand in January, albeit at a slower rate, with a PMI score of 52.3. That was down from last month's preliminary reading of 52.4, and also down from the December reading of 52.6. However, it remains comfortably above the boom-or-bust like of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the

U.S.
dollar traded in the lower 121 yen-level on Monday, up from Friday's close in the upper 120 yen-range in
Tokyo
.

Elsewhere in

Asia
,
South Korea
,
New Zealand
,
Indonesia
and
Taiwan
are up with modest gains. Meanwhile,
Shanghai
is down almost 1 percent.
Hong Kong
and
Singapore
are marginally lower. The markets in
Malaysia
are closed in observance of Federal Territory Day.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied on Friday, partly in reaction to the Bank of Japan's surprise decision to introduce negative interest rates. Buying interest was also generated by some of the latest earnings news, with Microsoft moving notably higher after reporting its fiscal second quarter results.

The Dow soared 396.66 points or 2.5 percent to 16,466.30, the Nasdaq jumped 107.28 points or 2.4 percent to 4,613.95 and the S&P 500 surged up 46.88 points or 2.5 percent to 1,940.24.

The European markets ended Friday's session firmly in positive territory. The DAX of

Germany
climbed 1.64 percent, the CAC 40 of
France
rose 2.19 percent and the FTSE of the
U.K.
gained 2.15 percent.

Crude oil futures ended a rough month on an upbeat note Friday, extending a three-day rally on signs that OPEC will cut production. March WTI crude settled at $33.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 40 cents or 1.2 percent for the session.

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Source: Equities.com News (January 31, 2016 - 12:10 PM EST)

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