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 January 14, 2016 - 12:14 PM EST
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Asian Markets Mostly Higher, But Pare Gains

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday, tracking the positive lead overnight from Wall Street and the rebound in crude oil prices. However, some of the markets have pared their initial gains after crude oil prices slipped in early Asian trades and the Chinese stock market opened lower.

The Australian market is advancing, with the overnight rally on Wall Street and the rebound in crude oil prices boosting investor sentiment.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index is adding 31.60 points or 0.64 percent to 4,941.00, off a high of 4,997.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 30.30 points or 0.61 percent to 4,994.40.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is gaining more than 3 percent, Rio Tinto is up 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is rising 2.5 percent.

BHP Billiton said it expects to take a charge of $7.2 billion in its half year results to write down the value of its onshore

oil and gas assets, marking the company's second writedown on its
oil and gas assets in six months.

Meanwhile, gold miner Newcrest Mining is declining almost 2 percent and Evolution Mining is down more than 2 percent after gold prices fell overnight.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent. Bucking the trend, Westpac is edging down 0.1 percent.

National Australia Bank's

subsidiary, Clydesdale Bank, has recorded strong quarterly growth ahead of a planned spinoff.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is adding 0.7 percent, Woodside Petroleum is advancing more than 1 percent and Santos is gaining almost 2 percent following the rebound in crude oil prices overnight.

Brookfield Infrastructure has again extended its A$9 billion takeover offer for Australian ports and rail operator Asciano until January 29, after earlier extending it until January 22. Shares of Asciano are gaining more than 1 percent.

On the economic front,

will release November numbers for home loans later in the day.

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

dollar on Friday as Chinese shares recovered and commodity prices gained. In early trades, the local unit was trading at $0.6994, up from Thursday's close of $0.6942.

The Japanese market is higher, tracking the overnight gains on Wall Street and higher crude oil prices. In addition, a weaker yen aided exporters' stocks. However, the market has pared some of its initial gains.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 71.47 points or 0.41 percent to 17,312.42, after rising to 17,597.87 earlier.

The major exporters are up with modest gains. Panasonic is advancing 0.5 percent, Sony is adding 0.3 percent and Toshiba is up 0.2 percent. In addition, Casio Computer is edging up 0.04 percent and Canon is rising more than 1 percent.

Sharp Corp. is rising almost 12 percent after the Yomiuri newspaper reported that

Hon Hai Precision Industry will raise its offer for the company to 700 billion yen from the earlier 500 billion yen.

Market heavyweight Fast Retailing is adding 0.7 percent and SoftBank is up more than 2 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are up 0.2 percent each and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising 0.5 percent.

Oil stock Inpex is adding almost 3 percent and JX Holdings is advancing almost 2 percent.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries said it will book impairment losses of 22.1 billion yen on its Brazilian business for the nine-month period ended December and accordingly, will lower its profit forecast for the full year. Shares of the company are losing almost 5 percent.

In the currency market, the

dollar is trading in the lower 118 yen-range in
on Friday, up slightly from Thursday's close in

Elsewhere in

New Zealand
South Korea
are up with modest gains. Meanwhile,
Hong Kong
are lower.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher on Thursday, partly due to an increase in the price of crude oil, which bounced further off the twelve-year closing low set on Tuesday. Traders also reacted positively to quarterly results from financial giant JP Morgan.

The Dow jumped 227.64 points or 1.4 percent to 16,379.05, the Nasdaq soared 88.94 points or 2 percent to 4,615.00 and the S&P 500 surged up 31.56 points or 1.7 percent at 1,921.84.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. While the

FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices turned higher Thursday as

stocks steadied and downbeat
economic data raised hopes the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates ultra-low for the time being. WTI crude for February delivery climbed $0.72 or 2.4 percent to $31.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Source: News (January 14, 2016 - 12:14 PM EST)

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