July 6, 2016 - 7:00 PM EDT
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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets, with the exception of Japan and China, are higher on Thursday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street on upbeat economic data and dovish Federal Reserve minutes indicating that a rate hike is unlikely in the near term. Higher crude oil prices also lifted investor sentiment.

The minutes of the Fed's latest monetary policy meeting noted that participants generally thought it would be prudent to wait for the outcome of the so-called Brexit vote before making any changes to monetary policy. Following the U.K.'s vote to leave the EU, most analysts expect the Fed to remain on hold at its next meeting later this month.

The Australian market is rising, with stocks advancing across all sectors, following the positive lead overnight from Wall Street and higher oil prices.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 36.70 points or 0.71 percent to 5,234.20, off a high of 5244.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 35.50 points or 0.67 percent to 5,320.20.

In the mining space, BHP Billiton is rising almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is gaining almost 3 percent, Woodside Petroleum is advancing more than 1 percent and Santos is higher by more than 3 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

The big four banks - ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac - are higher in a range of 0.6 percent to almost 1 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is up 0.3 percent and Evolution Mining is gaining almost 2 percent as gold prices closed at a two-year high overnight.

AGL Energy reiterated its full-year profit outlook, but warned of squeezed margins in its gas business. Shares of the energy retailer are losing almost 4 percent.

Medibank Private Ltd. said it will not be able to provide annual tax statements on time to the majority of its customers due to a problem upgrading its technology. However, shares of the health insurer are up 0.2 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the construction sector in Australia swung to expansion in June, with a Performance of Construction Index score of 53.2. That was up sharply from 46.7 in May, and it moved above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday amid a turnaround in risk appetite and higher commodity prices. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7521, up from US$0.7441 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is modestly lower, as the positive cues overnight from Wall Street were more than offset by a stronger yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 43.39 points or 0.28 percent to 15,335.60, off a low of 15,294.59 earlier.

Among the major exporters, Toshiba is gaining almost 2 percent, Panasonic is advancing more than 1 percent, Sony is adding 1 percent, and Sharp is higher by almost 4 percent. Canon is edging down 0.04 percent.

Market heavyweight Fast Retailing is rising 2 percent, while SoftBank Group is declining 0.5 percent.

Automaker Toyota and Honda are advancing almost 1 percent each. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.8 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining 1 percent and JX Holdings is lower by 0.8 percent despite higher crude oil prices.

Among the other major gainers, Kyowa Hakko Kirin is rising more than 4 percent, while Yamato Holdings is gaining almost 4 percent after a rating upgrade.

On the flip side, Aeon Co. is losing more than 6 percent after the supermarket operator reported a loss for the first quarter, while UNY Group is down more than 3 percent and Sekisui House is lower by 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 100 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong and South Korea are rising 1 percent each, while New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan are also higher. Shanghai is marginally lower. The markets in Malaysia and Indonesia remain closed on Thursday for Eid-ul-Fitr.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant turnaround and closed higher on Wednesday as lingering Brexit concerns were partly offset by the release of a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing faster than expected growth in the U.S. service sector activity in the month of June.

The Dow rose 78.00 points or 0.4 percent to 17,918.62, the Nasdaq advanced 36.26 points or 0.8 percent to 4,859.16 and the S&P 500 climbed 11.18 points or 0.5 percent to 2,099.73.

The major European markets showed notable moves to the downside on Wednesday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled by 1.3 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index plummeted by 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures rallied Wednesday along with global stocks, as risk appetite returned after a brief hiatus. August WTI oil settled at $47.43 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 83 cents, or 1.8 percent.

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Source: Equities.com News (July 6, 2016 - 7:00 PM EDT)

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