Dec 01, 2016 09:35 AM IST | Source: CNBC

Asian markets higher; Nikkei gains 1.6%, Kospi flat

The Nikkei 225 surged 1.55 percent in early trade, likely because of the weaker yen which hovered at the 114 handle.

Asian markets opened on a positive note early Thursday, after OPEC reached its first deal since 2008 to cut oil production.

Australia's ASX 200 was up 0.58 percent, with strong gains in its energy sub-index, which climbed 6.76 percent and its materials sub-index, which was up 2.14 percent.

The Nikkei 225 surged 1.55 percent in early trade, likely because of the weaker yen which hovered at the 114 handle.

South Korea's Kospi opened up 0.05 percent.

Statistics Korea data showed November consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.3 percent in year-on-year, missing a Reuters survey expecting a 1.5 percent increase in consumer prices. The Bank of Korea's inflation target stands at 2 percent, which leaves room for it to ease policy further.

South Korea also announced its preliminary trade figures for November, which showed that exports rose 2.7 percent year-on-year, compared to a Reuters poll estimating exports would rise by just 1.2 percent. Imports jumped 10.1 percent from the previous year, beating Reuters' forecast of 2.9 percent increase. Shipments to China also grew for the first time in 17 months, the trade ministry said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) surprised the markets with an agreement to cut oil production by 1.2 million barrels a day, in an effort to support oil prices. Crude oil prices have declined by more than half since mid-2014 because of global oversupply and an increase of U.S. shale production

"An agreement to curtail oil production announced overnight saw crude prices surge, the dollar lift again, the global bond rout resume and metals prices stabilize," said Michael McCarthy, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a note on Thursday.

"US share markets were flat, but the positive move in industrial commodities has futures for the Asia Pacific region firmly in the green. However, significant data releases may change the course of the trading session," he said.

During Asian trade on Thursday, Brent futures were trading at $51.84 a barrel, while US crude futures were trading 0.42 percent lower at USD 49.23.

Major oil companies in the region also received a leg-up from the OPEC deal. Australia's Santos was up 11.58 percent at AUSD 4.385 per share, while Oil Search gained 9.22 percent at AUSD 7.045. Japan's Inpex surged 9.35 percent at 1,186 yen a share, while Japan Petroleum Exploration added 10.4 percent to 2,569 yen.

Over at Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average closed near flat at 19,123.58, the S&P 500 slipped 0.27 percent at 2,198.81, while the Nasdaq composite finished 1.05 percent lower at 5,323.68.

On the currencies front, the dollar was trading at 101.5 against a basket of major currencies as of 8:28 am HK/SIN. The dollar strength applied sharp pressure on the yen, which weakened to 114.42 against the greenback at 8:29 am HK/SIN compared to levels as low as 112 earlier this week. The Australian dollar/U.S. dollar was at USD 0.7393 as of 8:29 am HK/SIN.

Markets will watch China's official manufacturing and services Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for November and the Caixin manufacuting PMIs. Australia will also be releasing its capital expenditure for the third-quarter.

"The highlight of today's session is the Australian Q3 CAPEX data and this could have big implications for those trading Australian dollar/US dollar," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at spreadbetter IG, in a note on Thursday.

"The Q3 Australian business investment plans are expected to fall 3 percent and this could have implications for next week's Q3 GDP print, but one should also look out for the fourth estimate of business investment plans for 2016/17," he said.
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