Asia-Pacific markets set to climb higher, Australia’s ASX 200 rises 0.91% in early trade

A currency dealer monitors exchange rates in a trading room at KEB Hana Bank in Seoul on December 30, 2019.

JUNG YEON-JE | AFP via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets were set to drift higher Friday, taking cues from Wall Street where U.S. stocks climbed to record highs overnight.

Australian shares rose in early trade as the benchmark ASX 200 added 0.91%, with most sectors trading higher. Energy and materials subindexes gained 1.99% and 1.54%, respectively as shares of oil stocks and major miners mostly advanced.

Futures pointed to opening gains for Japan’s Nikkei 225.

Overnight, the S&P 500 jumped 1% and hit a new closing high, surpassing its previous record from Feb. 16, while a rebound in tech shares resumed.

U.S. President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which will send direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans.

Elsewhere, the European Central Bank said it expects to increase bond purchases significantly next quarter. Bond yields in the euro zone have been ticking higher since February, in line with the yield on U.S. Treasury notes.

Investors worried that rising bond yields could derail the economic recovery in Europe by increasing the borrowing costs for countries that are already struggling with the coronavirus crisis.

Currencies and oil

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar fell 0.44% to 91.423 against a basket of its peers, declining from an earlier high around 91.878.

The Japanese yen changed hands at 108.53 per dollar while the Australian dollar traded near flat at $0.7788.

Oil prices slipped Friday morning during Asian trading hours. U.S. crude was down 0.15% at $65.92 a barrel. Overnight, energy prices jumped more than 2% — a weaker greenback and the prospect of stimulus measures in the United States boosted sentiment in the commodity market, according to some analysts. Falling crude inventories and expectations that a supply glut will ease also helped sentiment.

“Crude oil extended recent gains amid further signs the recovery in fuel consumption is continuing to strengthen,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a morning note, adding that a full recovery remained some way off.

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