June 19, 2016 - 7:30 PM EDT
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Asian Markets Rise As Brexit Fears Ease

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are in positive territory on Monday as worries over a potential British exit from the European Union receded. The surge in crude oil prices also boosted investor sentiment.

UK citizens are preparing to vote Thursday on whether to remain part of the European Union. An opinion poll over the weekend showed the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU was gaining momentum.

The Australian market is advancing. In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 65.70 points or 1.27 percent to 5,228.40, off a high of 5,238.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 58.70 points or 1.12 percent to 5,307.00.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is gaining more than 3 percent, Rio Tinto is advancing almost 3 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 0.6 percent.

The big four banks - ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank - are higher in a range of 1.8 percent to 2.3 percent.

In the oil space, Santos is rising almost 6 percent, Oil Search is gaining almost 2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing almost 5 percent after crude oil prices surged on Friday.

Meanwhile, gold miner Newcrest Mining is declining almost 3 percent and Evolution Mining is losing more than 1 percent.

SurfStitch said it will cut about 40 jobs in the U.S. amid a restructuring of its U.S. operations. Shares of the online retailer are rising more than 2 percent.

Austal has won two contracts worth a total of A$29 million to build commercial passenger ferries. The shipbuilder's shares are up more than 4 percent.

Metcash reported a turnaround to profit for the full year and said it expects to resume half-yearly dividends from this time next year. However, the supermarket wholesale supplier's shares are declining 0.5 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar following the surge in crude oil prices. In early trades Monday, the local unit was trading at US$0.7434, up from US$0.7379 on Friday.

The Japanese market is notably higher on a weaker yen and as worries about the UK's potential exit from the European Union eased.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 341.11 points or 2.19 percent to 15,940.77, off a high of 16,035.44 earlier.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Panasonic is advancing almost 3 percent, Sharp is rising more than 4 percent, Canon is adding more than 1 percent and Sony is gaining more than 3 percent. Market heavyweight Fast Retailing is up almost 4 percent.

Automaker Toyota is rising more than 2 percent and Honda is adding 2 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is gaining almost 3 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is higher by more than 3 percent and JX Holdings is adding more than 1 percent following the surge in crude oil prices.

Among the other major gainers, Tokuyama Corp is gaining almost 9 percent, Screen Holdings is rising almost 8 percent and Fukuoka Financial is up more than 6 percent. Meanwhile, Hitachi Zosen is losing almost 4 percent and Mitsubishi Motors is down almost 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 40.7 billion yen in May. That missed forecasts for a surplus of 70.0 billion yen, following the 823.5 billion yen surplus in April.

Exports were down 11.3 percent on year, missing forecasts for a fall of 10.0 percent following the 10.1 percent decline in the previous month. Imports skidded an annual 13.8 percent - matching forecasts after plummeting 23.3 percent a month earlier.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 104 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is adding more than 1 percent, Singapore is rising almost 1 percent. New Zealand, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia are also in positive territory. Bucking the trend, Shanghai is marginally lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower in subdued trading activity on Friday amid ongoing concerns about the referendum on whether Britain will remain in the European Union.

The Dow slipped 57.94 points or 0.3 percent to 17,675.16, the Nasdaq fell 44.58 points or 0.9 percent to 4,800.34, and the S&P 500 slid 6.77 points or 0.3 percent to 2,071.22.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 1 percent and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.9 percent.

Crude oil prices rose on Friday for the first time in the week as the U.S. dollar weakened and as worries about Brexit eased slightly. WTI for July delivery rose $1.77 or 3.8 percent to close at $47.98 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Source: Equities.com News (June 19, 2016 - 7:30 PM EDT)

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