Markets Mostly In Reverse After Latest Stocks Surge

A currency dealer monitors exchange rates in a trading room at the KEB Hana Bank in Seoul on October 12, 2018. Asia’s main stock markets traded lower on October 12, but losses were relatively muted as investors took a breather after a global rout sparked by fears over higher US interest rates. Jung Yeon-je / AFP.


Asian markets mostly fell Tuesday as traders took a step back after their latest rally, with a run of upbeat economic data offset by fears over a spike in new virus infections.

While several countries are suffering a fresh surge in infections — particularly the United States — the ongoing easing of lockdown measures and reopening of economies has been the key driver of a months-long surge across equities.

After the latest advances, which saw Shanghai hit a two-year high and the Nasdaq on Wall Street end at another record, dealers stepped back and took profits.

There was also some trepidation on trading floors after Donald Trump’s top infectious diseases expert warned the US was still “knee-deep” in its first wave of coronavirus infections.

Anthony Fauci said the country was in “a serious situation that we have to address immediately”.

That came as several states reported new daily records for new cases, with some reimposing lockdowns.

On Tuesday, Australian authorities said more than five million residents of Melbourne, the country’s second-biggest city, will be locked down for six weeks after virus cases surged.

Hong Kong shed 1.4 percent after climbing more than eight percent over the previous four trading days, while Tokyo, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Manila were also in negative territory.

Sydney and Jakarta were flat, while London, Paris and Frankfurt were all down in the morning as the European Union forecast a massive contraction in the eurozone economy this year.

But Shanghai rose 0.4 percent, having surged almost six percent Monday as retail investors piled back into the market.

Observers also pointed to an editorial in the China Securities Times on Monday that said fostering a “bull market” after the virus crisis was crucial to kick-starting the world’s number two economy.

The composite index has risen more than 10 percent in just over a week, though there are worries about another bubble similar to the one that burst four years ago and sparked a global rout.

– More gains to come? –

“China’s army of retail investors seem to be perfectly able to look through the worrying Western media headlines of another global coronavirus record,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

“Instead, they are listening to the enthusiastic chorus from the nation’s influential state media, which are universally singing bullish from the same song page.”

He cited reports saying there had been a recent surge in new brokerage account openings.

Wellington, Mumbai and Bangkok also rose.

Traders have for weeks been trying to balance the reopening of economies with worries about the disease as it continues its march across the planet.

On Monday there was more positive data, with an index of the US service sector — which makes up the vast majority of the economy — seeing its biggest-ever jump in June to beat forecasts.

“Investors have recognised that as bad as the economy in the US is, it’s not as bad as what people thought it would look like in March and April,” said Nancy Prial at Essex Investment Management.

“The market has started to sense we might see better-than-anticipated results fairly broadly across a wide spread of companies.”

In a sign that the reporting season could be positive, Samsung Electronics said Tuesday it expects to see operating profit jump 23 percent in the second quarter, which is much better than the single-digit fall that analysts had forecast.

The firm appears to have benefited as lockdowns boosted its chip business with data centres moving to stockpile DRAM chips to meet surging demand for online activities.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 22,614.69 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.4 percent at 25,975.66 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.4 percent at 2,245.34 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,234.63

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.4 percent at $40.07 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.2 percent at $42.58

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1285 from $1.1308 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.57 yen from 107.39 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2480 from $1.2489

Euro/pound: DOWN at 90.44 pence from 90.53 pence

New York – Dow: UP 1.8 percent at 26,287.03 (close)


European Stock Markets Rebound Strongly At Open


European stock markets rebounded strongly at the start of trading on Monday following a rally in Asia, driven by hopes of a swift and solid economic recovery.

London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index surged 1.8 percent at 6,267.78 points, having slid by 1.3 percent Friday on profit-taking.

In the eurozone, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 index jumped 1.9 percent to 12,766.05 points at the open Monday and the Paris CAC 40 won 2.0 percent to 5,109.28.


Markets Mixed As Investors Track Second Wave, New Lockdowns

People walk through a shopping area in Tokyo on May 12, 2020. Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP.


Equities were mixed Wednesday in Asia after a healthy run-up the day before as traders weigh positive data suggesting economies are recovering against signs of a second wave of infections and the reintroduction of some lockdowns.

While governments and central banks have provided a wall of cash to support markets, investors are walking a tightrope between hopes the easing of restrictions will lead to a rebound and the possibility that looser measures will inflame the pandemic again.

After a rally across most regional bourses Tuesday, Wall Street and Europe followed suit after figures pointed to a big improvement in eurozone private-sector activity in June as well as a jump in US new home sales.

Meanwhile, several countries continued to loosen up, including in Britain where pubs, restaurants, hotels and cinemas were told they could open again from July 4.

“Through the lens of survey data, at least for now, the world’s essential economies are seeing a V-shaped and coordinated rebound that looks set to (continue) through the summer in the northern hemisphere,” said Stephen Innes at AxiCorp. “Fingers crossed a second wave super spread does not land in our lap.”

However, there are growing concerns of a relapse in some countries that had been opening up, with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike on Wednesday warning a number of new cases had been found at one workplace.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Crisis Sinks Global Economy In 2020, Collapsing GDP 4.9% – IMF

That comes after Germany reimposed containment measures in two western districts — home to almost 640,000 people — after an outbreak at a slaughterhouse infected more than 1,500 workers.

Portugal has also announced new restrictions in and around Lisbon.

And leading US health officials headed by top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned of “historic” challenges, adding: “COVID-19 activity will likely continue for some time.”

Fauci warned the next two weeks would be “critical to our ability to address… surgings” in Florida, Texas and other states.

Tokyo and Singapore each lost 0.1 percent, Hong Kong dipped 0.5 percent and there were also losses in Manila.

Sydney added 0.2 percent, Shanghai gained 0.3, Mumbai added 0.5 percent and Taipei put on 0.4 percent with Wellington and Jakarta more than one percent higher.

Seoul climbed 1.5 percent with help coming from a report that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has suspended plans for military action against the South in an apparent easing of tensions just over a week after Pyongyang blew up a liaison office.

London, Frankfurt and Paris were all in the red in early trade.

While equities have been on a generally upward trajectory, gold — a key safe haven in times of uncertainty — has also been on the up as the relatively weak dollar makes it cheaper to buy, while investors are also keeping an eye on a fall-back in case the crisis erupts again.

The yellow metal is up around 17 percent since the end of December and sitting at a seven-and-a-half-year high of $1,775.

“Historically the metal has rallied when stocks have sold off as funds typically flowed towards assets that are deemed to be lower risk,” said CMC Markets analyst David Madden.

“The rise of the US dollar as a risk-off play has distorted the old relationship between gold and attitudes towards risk. Recently we have seen gold and stocks move higher in tandem.”

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,534.32 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.5 percent at 24,781.58 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 2,979.55 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.8 percent at 6,271.71

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $40.39 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $42.77 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1293 from $1.1308 at 2050 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.61 yen from 106.53 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2480 from $1.2520

Euro/pound: UP at 90.48 pence from 90.30 pence

New York – Dow: UP 0.5 percent at 26,156.10 (close).



Niger Governor Eases Lockdown, Directs Markets, Banks To Open

A file photo of Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State.



Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello, has ordered the easing of the lockdown and other measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

While briefing reporters on Tuesday at the Government House in Minna, he directed markets, banks and other places of business activities to reopen, but with strict adherence to all safety measures.

The governor, however, stated that there would be strict enforcement of the compulsory use of face masks in public places and adherence to physical distancing.

He also asked the police and other security agencies to arrest and prosecute persons not wearing face masks in public places.

Governor Bello explained that the government took the decision to relax the lockdown after reviewing its strategies and assessment of the current realities.

He revealed that the state Ministry of Education has been directed to liaise with all stakeholders in the educational sector to develop a workable strategy for the reopening of schools in the state.

The governor asked all civil servants to remain at home except those on essential services and thanked the people of the state, especially frontline workers for their effort in the fight against COVID-19.

Read the full text of the governor’s briefing below:



Once again I thank all Nigerlites, particularly the frontline workers who have been making sacrifices for the containment of COVID-19. We, in our different roles, we have all demonstrated our commitment to the collective wellbeing of all, even in the face of outright discomfort.

As at today, the state has recorded 46 cases of COVID-19 and one death, out of which 26 of them have been discharged and reunited with their families. This represents more than half of the cases we have had to manage.

All confirmed cases so far are limited to nine LGAs of Chanchaga, Suleja, Rafi, Bida, Shiroro, Borgu, Bosso, Mariga, and Kontagora.

However, we have established additional quarantine centres in Minna and Suleja to cater for humane repatriation of Almajirai to reunite with their families and curtail the chances of contracting the virus and its spread.

After reviewing our strategies and assessment of the current realities, the following guidelines shall be used going forward:

All measures earlier put in place shall be eased – nonetheless,   there shall be enhanced enforcement of the compulsory use of facemask in public places and adherence to Physical distancing;

Henceforth, markets, banks and other places of business activities should be opened with strict adherence to all safety measures;

There shall be no more lockdown days, hence restriction of movement shall be from 10pm to 4am;

The ban on inter-state travels except for the movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services will remain in force;

All intra-state travels are to be eased and the internal security checkpoints should be dismantled;

The ban on commercial motorcycle operators shall remain;

Public motor parks and other public transportation centres must continue to abide by the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Transport for their operations;

State government to support IBB University to establish a testing centre to include antibody and antigen tests.

Police and other security agencies to arrest and prosecute anyone not wearing face masks in public places within the state;

The State Ministry of Education is directed to liaise with all stakeholders in the educational sector towards developing a workable strategy for the reopening of our schools;

All civil servants are to remain at home except those on essential services.


We are redoubling our efforts to operationalize a molecular testing laboratory at General   Hospital Minna, to increase our testing capacity and reduce the turnaround time for the release of results.

Our surveillance systems are being enhanced to quickly detect any case of coronavirus including investigation, monitoring and management of positive cases.

As we strengthen our sensitization efforts to improve case search within our communities to mitigate against community transmission among others, I wish to call on our traditional leaders, religious clerics, market associations, transport unions, youth groups, NGOs, CBOs, to deepen community outreach so that collectively we will curtail this pandemic.

While we continue to do our part, I appeal to everyone to continue to adhere to personal hygiene procedures as well as other precautionary measures.

Thank you all and stay safe.

COVID-19: Kaduna Govt Says Markets, Places Of Worship To Remain Closed Till Further Notice


The Kaduna State Government says it will not re-open markets or places of worship until further notice as the nation continues to battle the COVID-19.

This was disclosed in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Special Adviser to the state Governor, Muyiwa Adekeye.

The decision to close places of worship in Kaduna State had been taken and enforced in March 2020 by the state government as part of the proclamation of the Quarantine Orders against COVID-19 in the state.

But on Tuesday, while the government noted that activities will still remain on lockdown, Adekeye said they have started engagements with business leaders, community, and religious leaders to discuss and agree on the protocols for the safe re-opening of businesses, markets and resumption of congregational worship.

He, however, stressed that until such consultations result in a formal announcement authorising businesses, markets and places of worship to reopen, it will be a violation of subsisting Quarantine Orders for anybody to reopen any unauthorised facility, market or places of worship or to conduct congregational worship of any sort, adding that places of worship in Kaduna State were not closed by the Federal Government.

The government also noted that the state maintains its prohibition of interstate and intercity travel, adding that government officials and mobile courts will continue to enforce the ban to prevent people from spreading the virus through non-essential movement.

It further stated that the 6:00 pm to 6:00 am curfew still remains.

“Kaduna State is not one of the three states and the FCT where the Federal Government imposed a lockdown. The steps taken to ease such federally-imposed lockdowns in the concerned places should not be construed as the Federal Government relaxing in all states conditions that it did not impose in the first place.

“Kaduna State has its own well-articulated roadmap for reopening, and this was published last week as a public document for the views and inputs of the citizens of the State. That is why when it extended the Quarantine Orders by two weeks on 26th May 2020, it also announced steps to ease some of the restrictions. These included increasing lockdown-free days to three and allowing approved businesses and facilities to open on those three days.

“The quarantine extension announced by the Deputy Governor Dr. Hadiza Balarabe on 26th May 2020 made clear that schools, places of worship and markets will remain closed under the adjusted orders.

“The relevant government officials and agencies will be engaging with religious leaders, transport unions, traditional institutions, market unions, school proprietors and other stakeholders as may be identified from time to time, to discuss the conditions and circumstances for a safe reopening of these sectors,” the statement added.

Stocks Rally As Restrictions Ease And Death Rates Drop

An Investor (not shown) looks at screens showing stock market movements at a securities company in Beijing on August 26, 2019. WANG Zhao / AFP.


Asian equity markets rallied Monday as traders looked past a staggering jump in US job losses to focus on governments easing virus lockdown measures and data showing death rates falling in some of the worst-hit countries.

Observers warned, however, that with the outlook still murky, traders could be getting ahead of themselves — while there are concerns of a second wave hitting South Korea and China, which had been slowly reopening their economies.

Official figures on Friday showed a record 20.5 million people were laid off in the US in April, sending unemployment soaring to 14.7 percent, the highest since the Great Depression.

However, the reading was slightly lower than forecasts and Wall Street ended a healthy week with strong gains as focus turned to plans to lift restrictions that have kept billions of people stuck at home for months in the US and the rest of the world.

“There is hope within this labyrinth of statistical perversity,” said AxiCorp’s Stephen Innes.

“The vast majority of job losers anticipate being recalled. Temporary layoffs on this scale have never happened — like almost every data point in this jobs report — and the hope is that it leads to a rather rapid return to work.”

Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Taipei all ended up more than one percent.

Jakarta, Bangkok and Mumbai also put on more than one percent in the afternoon, and there were also gains in Singapore and Wellington — though Seoul lost 0.5 percent.

READ ALSO: China’s Ground Zero Reports COVID-19 Infections

Shanghai gave up early gains to end marginally lower despite a pledge by the People’s Bank of China to “more powerful” policies to support the world’s number two economy.

In early trade, London, Paris and Frankfurt posted gains.

However, Sri Lanka’s stock market closed within seconds of reopening following a seven-week trading halt, having tumbled more than 10 percent.

Traders took heart in figures out of badly hit countries including France, Germany and the US showing death rates continuing to sink, while leaders ease up on restrictions put in place to stop the disease’s spread.

There is, however, the ever-present fear of another bout of infections.

South Korea, which had been praised for the handling of its initial outbreak, has been forced to shut all bars and clubs in Seoul after a cluster of new cases, while China on Monday reported the first new infections in over a month in Wuhan, where the outbreak started.

In Germany, at least one district had to reimpose restrictions after an outbreak at a meat processing plant. The latest data out of the country indicated the infection rate was rising again.

– Fears of second wave –

OANDA’s Jeffrey Halley, however, said markets would not likely be hit by such news just yet.

“Markets will likely ignore the threat of COVID-19 part two, staying with the momentum of the peak-virus trade,” he said in a note.

Tapas Strickland, of National Australia Bank, remained upbeat as economies grind back to life after months of near standstill.

“A sharp pick-up in economic activity is being priced by markets, and should occur as long as there is no second wave of infections that necessitates the re-implementation of containment measures,” he said.

“Markets are thus likely to be increasingly sensitive to the track of new COVID-19 cases in countries that have begun to ease restrictions. Progress on a vaccine/effective treatment would also be a game changer.”

The improving sentiment lifted high-yielding, riskier currencies against the dollar, with the South Korean won, South African rand and Australian dollar among the best performers.

But, with markets having soared from their March lows, there are concerns the rally may have run too far considering the uncertainty about how quickly economies can bounce back.

Bob Baur at Principal Global Investors LLC said: “Because so much future growth and uptrend potential is priced in, we expect a period of relapse and consolidation through June.”

Oil prices slipped on profit-taking after surging last week on hopes for a pick-up in demand and as inventories begin to fall and producers slash output.

“While price action is bound to be choppy as economies try to move out of lockdowns, it is probably safe to say that traders have planked a base on oil prices,” added Innes. “Oil fundamentals are showings signs of improvement by the week.”

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 1.1 percent at 20,390.66 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 1.5 percent at 24,602.06 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 2,894.80 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 1.0 percent at 5,996.85

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.9 percent at $24.26 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.9 percent at $30.38 per barrel

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0833 from $1.0836 at 2040 GMT on Friday

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.21 yen from 106.73 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2387 from $1.2402

Euro/pound: UP at 87.45 pence from 87.34 pence

New York – Dow: UP 1.9 percent at 24,331.32 (close).


Asian Markets Mostly Down As Traders Fret Over Coronavirus

An Investor (not shown) looks at screens showing stock market movements at a securities company in Beijing on August 26, 2019. WANG Zhao / AFP


Most Asian equities retreated Wednesday after a two-day rally as investors closely track developments in the coronavirus crisis, while the oil market continued to fluctuate ahead of a crucial producers’ meeting.

While the deadly disease continues to sweep across the planet, signs that the rate of infections is possibly levelling out and countries are preparing to ease some lockdown restrictions have instilled a semblance of optimism this week.

However, the scale of the fight was laid bare by official data showing France’s economy suffered its worst contraction during the first three months of this year since just after World War II.

The French central bank said that in the last two weeks of March, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, economic activity plunged 32 percent.

“Signs that the number of new daily coronavirus cases is topping out in Western Europe… is driving expectations that social distancing measures will be lifted soon,” said Stephen Innes, at AxiCorp.

“Relaxing of social distancing rules is providing the undercurrent of positivity in the markets.”

However, uncertainty about how long the crisis will last and the damage it will inflict on the global economy was keeping traders on edge and hobbling any sustainable rally.

READ ALSO: Ethiopia Declares State Of Emergency Over Coronavirus

Wall Street, where all three main indexes soared at least seven percent at the start of the week, struggled to extend its rally and turned into negative territory Tuesday.

The losses bled into Asia, with Hong Kong losing more than one percent, Singapore two percent, and Sydney and Seoul each 0.9 percent.

Shanghai ended down 0.2 percent, while Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta also saw steep falls.

Tokyo, however, rose more than two percent as Japan’s government unveiled details of a $1 trillion stimulus package, and Taipei piled on 1.4 percent. Wellington also rose and Mumbai was flat.

– ‘Someone needs to compromise’ –

Jeffrey Halley, at OANDA, offered a warning for traders to beware any false dawn.

“A lot of good news has been built into asset markets this week on the most tenuous signs that the outbreak is peaking,” he said in note. “Should that be proved premature the correction… could be very ugly indeed.”

He said a bear market rally should not be mistaken for the beginning of a V-shaped recovery, adding: “The best we can hope for is a U, with a W in a close second place.”

Oil prices rallied, but the commodity continues to swing as traders keenly await Thursday’s planned meeting of the world’s top producers, which will discuss a possible output cut.

The commodity has been battered by the virus as lockdowns around the world bring the global economy to a standstill and drag on demand, while a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia has compounded the crisis.

With Riyadh and Moscow taking part, there are hopes they may draw a line under their dispute.

AxiCorp global market strategist Stephen Innes said current figures being discussed point to an output cut of 10 million barrels per day for the OPEC-led alliance — but cautioned this may not be enough as the virus saps global demand.

“With millions of jobs and the stability of the global economy at risk, someone needs to compromise, or it will leave the industry in tatters,” he warned.

Howie Lee, an economist at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. said that while a cut of 10 million barrels “would lend some support to prices”, he added that US participation was key, otherwise other producers would not be likely to take part.

Energy ministers from the Group of 20 will hold a meeting on the issue on Friday.

Investors were also keeping tabs on talks in Europe where leaders are struggling to agree on a path to supporting the region’s economy, with the EU’s 27 members unable to agree to a solidarity fund using “coronabonds”.

The Bank of France, meanwhile, said the nation’s economy contracted six percent in January-March, putting it in recession and marking the worst performance since 1945.

Stocks in Paris fell 1.5 percent, London shed 1.2 percent and Frankfurt dipped 0.6 percent.

In share trading, Australian banks were hammered in Sydney after Bank of Queensland said it would delay its dividend payments, having been urged to do so by regulators. The move, the first by a lender in the country, fuelled fears that others would follow.

– Key figures around 0810 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.1 percent at 19,353.24 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.2 percent at 23,970.37 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,815.37 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 1.2 percent at 5,634.69

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.9 percent at $32.46 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 4.8 percent at $24.77 per barrel

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0852 from $1.0890 at 2050 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 108.86 yen from 108.83 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2300 from $1.2334

Euro/pound: DOWN at 88.23 pence from 88.28

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,653.86 (close).


COVID-19 Lockdown: Stalls Selling Food And Groceries Will Open Every 48 Hours – FG


The Federal Government has announced that only shops and stalls selling food and groceries will be allowed to open to customers in states where a lock down was imposed, between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm every 48 hours or less frequently. 

The National Co-ordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Aliyu Sani, said this on Wednesday during a briefing by members of the task force.

“For markets, only shops and stalls selling food and groceries shall be allowed to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm,” he said.

Meanwhile, for supermarkets and food stores, their opening hours must be between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm and all owners and managers have been warned to screen staff and customers before entry.

Read Also: Over 2,000 Persons Have Been Tested For COVID-19 – Health Minister

“On arrival, all staff must be screened for a high temperature and all those found to have a high body temperature above 38, will be denied entry and advised to seek immediate medical attention.

“All deliveries for supplies and products for these supermarkets must be made between the hours of 5:00 am and 9:00 am,” Sani added.

He further stated that at any point in time, the total number of customers inside each store must not exceed a third of the store’s total capacity.

After their closure at 4:00 pm, Sani urged shop owners to ensure that all shelves, aisles and stores are cleaned and disinfected and by 6:00 pm, staff are conveyed back to their respective homes.

N/B: An earlier version of this story suggested that the opening of markets would be daily, however, while the time of opening remains between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, it is pertinent to note that the markets will only operate alternate day. 

Tokyo Stocks Close Higher As Iran Worries Ease

People wait to cross a street in front of a stock indicator displaying share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on January 9, 2020. Behrouz MEHRI / AFP


Tokyo stocks closed higher on Friday, extending rallies on Wall Street as worries over US-Iran tensions receded while investors eyed US job data.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gained 0.47 percent, or 110.70 points, to 23,850.57, While the broader Topix index was up 0.35 percent, or 6.11 points, at 1,735.16.

“The Japanese market reacted positively after US stocks ended at records,” Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary.

The gains marked a second straight session of advances on rising confidence that the US and Iran would avoid a conflict, following statements Wednesday by US President Donald Trump and Iranian officials.

Sentiment was further boosted by China’s announcement that Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington next week to sign the “phase one” deal with the United States, which has lowered trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies, analysts said.

Traders also eyed on US job data expected to be released later Friday.

The dollar fetched 109.57 yen in Asian trade, against 109.51 yen in New York late Thursday.

In Tokyo, chip-making equipment manufacturer Tokyo Electron rose 1.44 percent to 24,840 yen and chip-testing equipment maker Advantest climbed 1.11 percent to 6,350 yen.

Some China-linked shares were higher, with industrial robot maker Fanuc gaining 2.35 percent to 20,670 yen and construction machine maker Komatsu advancing 1.21 percent to 2,616 yen.

Uniqlo chain operator Fast Retailing dropped 2.77 percent to 61,990 yen a day after it cut its full-year net profit forecast on sluggish sales in Asia owing to the Hong Kong protests and a boycott of Japanese products in South Korea.

Asian Markets Mostly Higher As Iran Fears Recede, Eyes On US Jobs

People wait to cross a street in front of a stock indicator displaying share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on January 9, 2020. BEHROUZ MEHRI / AFP


Most Asian markets rose Friday but investors were struggling to maintain a rally triggered by easing US-Iran tensions the previous day as focus turned back to the global economic outlook.

The toning down of rhetoric from Donald Trump and Tehran following an Iranian missile attack on US assets in Iraq soothed concerns about a possible conflict in the Middle East and lit a fire under global equities on Thursday.

That has allowed dealers to resume their buying spree that had characterised business for the past few weeks, cheered by China and the United States reaching a trade deal, central banks easing monetary policy and data pointing to an improved global outlook.

“Even though we are hitting close to or near all-time highs, we still feel pretty excited about this market,” Invesco strategist Timothy Horsburgh told Bloomberg TV.

“What we’ve seen over the past couple of days with some of this relief rally, this is indicative of a market that’s wanted to go higher for a while now as a result of better fundamentals and a little bit of optimism around reaccelerating growth here in the US.”

Wall Street’s three main indexes racked up fresh records and Asia broadly followed suit, though the gains were light.

Tokyo ended 0.5 percent up, Seoul added 0.9 percent and Sydney jumped 0.8 percent, while Singapore put on 0.2 percent, Taipei jumped 0.5 percent and Mumbai climbed 0.7 percent. Wellington, Bangkok and Jakarta also rose.

But Shanghai dropped 0.1 percent, while Manila lost 0.6 percent.

Oil falls further

There appeared to be little negative market reaction to claims by Canada that Iran shot down an airliner in Tehran this week, killing 176 people.

Investors are now looking to the release later in the day of US jobs figures for a better idea about the state of the world’s top economy, while next week sees China and the US put pen to paper on their mini trade deal.

The “critical payroll data comes as a most welcome distraction and will provide an essential update on the pace of US job gains”, said Stephen Innes at AxiTrader.

“With US economic growth mostly dependent on the consumer, a healthy labour market is crucial to any constructive ‘risk-on’ narrative”.

“With the market backdrop remaining supportive –- namely, improving macro, central bank easing, and receding… risk around trade, Brexit, and the Middle East, the path of least resistance remains up.”

Oil prices dipped, with the sharp gains enjoyed in the wake of the US assassination of Iran’s top general last week being wiped out. The commodity is now below levels seen before the killing early last Friday.

Innes added that with “the chance of a proxy or rogue threat of disruption to physical supply still elevated, we could see a floor start to build around current (price) levels”.

“At the same time, traders will now turn the focus back on the relatively pedestrian views around trade and data, which remain positive for oil.”

Key figures at 0710 GMT

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 23,850.57 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 28,609.63

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.1 percent at 3,092.29 (close)

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3083 from $1.3064 at 2200 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.90 pence from 84.98 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1108 at $1.1105

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.57 yen from 109.51 yen

Brent Crude: DOWN eight cents at $65.29 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 10 cents at $59.46 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 28,956.90 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,598.12 (close)

US Stocks End At Records As Iran Worries Ease

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on January 03, 2020 in New York City.  Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP



Wall Street stocks jumped to fresh records on Thursday following a buoyant session for global equities as investors took heart that a US-Iran conflict is not escalating and a trade deal with China is likely to be signed.

All three major US indices finished at all-time highs, with the broad-based S&P 500 winning 0.7 percent as haven investments such as gold and the yen faltered.

The gains in New York marked a second straight session of advances on rising confidence about the US-Iran clash following statements Wednesday by US President Donald Trump and Iranian officials.

“Assuming Iran-US tensions continue to simmer rather than boil, markets are likely to refocus on the global growth outlook and on trade, with the interim US-China trade deal expected to be signed on 15 January,” said National Australia Bank’s Tapas Strickland.

Further boosting sentiment, China said that Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington next week to sign the “phase one” deal with the United States that has lowered trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

The advance in the United States was broad-based, with the technology, financial and energy sectors registering especially large gains.

“Markets have learned not to overreact to developments in the Middle East,” Gregori Volokhine of Meeschaert Financial Services told AFP.

“What animates investors is fear of missing out on a higher stock market. Nobody wants to be the first sell or take profits.”

Frankfurt led European gains as the DAX closed up 1.3 percent — Lufthansa flying high with a four percent gain — as London and Paris, which at one time brushed a 13-year high, limited gains to around a quarter of one percent.

Tokyo and Hong Kong had earlier added around two percent and Shanghai 0.9 percent.

But the rush to riskier investments saw gold, seen as a haven in times of unrest, pull back, having earlier broken $1,600 per ounce for the first time in seven years.

The lowering of tensions will allow traders to turn their attention to the release on Friday of US jobs data, which will provide the latest snapshot of the world’s number one economy, with recent figures indicating it remains robust.

Also in focus is the upcoming earnings season, which kicks off this month.

Pound falls

In London meanwhile, the pound slid after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said Britain’s economic recovery was “not assured” despite a drop in Brexit uncertainties.

“Although the risk of a semi-hard Brexit at the end of 2020 will continue to hang over the UK, the sweeping 12 December election win for (Prime Minister Boris) Johnson and his Conservative Party has brought much of the damaging uncertainty of recent years to an end,” said Kallum Pickering, senior economist with Berenberg.

He forecast a real growth pickup from 1.3 percent in 2019 to 1.8 this year and 2.1 in 2021.

Key figures at 2220 GMT

New York – Dow: UP 0.7 percent at 28,956.90 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.7 percent at 3,274.70 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.8 percent at 9,203.43 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,598.12 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.3 percent at 13,495.06 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 6,042.55 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 3,795.88 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 2.3 percent at 23,739.87 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: 1.7 percent at 28,561.00 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 3,094.88 (close)

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3064 from $1.3097 at 2200 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 84.98 pence from 84.80 pence

Euro/dollar: FLAT at $1.1105

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.51 from 109.12 yen

Brent Crude: DOWN 0.1 percent at $65.37 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $59.56 per barrel

Provide Firefighting Equipment In All Major Markets, Senate Tells FG


The Senate has called on the Federal Government to provide firefighting equipment in all major markets across the country.

This formed part of the resolutions reached by the lawmakers during Thursday’s plenary in the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

They asked the government to make provision for the equipment through the Federal Fire Service, following the fire incidents that claimed lives and destroyed properties in parts of the country.

Among the notable incidents include the fuel tanker explosion in Onitsha which killed a mother and her child, as well as the fire outbreak at two different locations at a popular market in Lagos State.

Senator Ifeanyi Ubah of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) put aside his political difference and joined his Anambra colleagues – Senator Stella Oduah and Senator Uche Ekwunife – of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to call the attention of the Senate to the tragic fire disaster in Onitsha.

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The Way To Go

In her contribution, Senator Oduah described the incident as a sad one and stressed the need to ensure that drunk drivers do not drive.

“We urge the Federal Government to intervene. Every market of this size must have a huge presence of fire service,” she said.

Senator Ekwunife, on her part, believes the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) should be looking at the quality of drivers that drive lorries and vehicles.

She urged that all the requests by the Senate were taken and the amendment that fire service should be provided in all major markets be approved by the government.

The lawmaker said, “The fire service should provide fire equipment in all major markets across the country so that if it happens there will be an immediate solution.”

Senator Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu) commiserated with the families of the victims while Senator Francis Ezenwa (Imo) recommended that measures be put in place to prevent such incidents he said were avoidable.

“We also have to look at the state of our roads to be sure that such thing will not happen again.

“Most important, I think we should look at moving inflammable products by pipeline – it is safer and more convenient and it is the way to go,” he said.


Spirit Of True Federalism

Other lawmakers who made various contributions were Senator Christopher Ekpenyong (Akwa Ibom), Senator Theodore Orji (Abia), Senator Ike Ekweremadu (Enugu), Senator Benjamin Uwajumogu (Imo), and Senator George Sekibo (Rivers).

The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, called on the FRSC ensure drivers on the highway undergo various examinations to ensure they were not under the influence of drugs.

According to him, there is a need to ensure that tanker drivers are certified and do not drink before or while embarking on a trip.

“It is a major responsibility of each state to take the lead on fire outbreak.

“Anambra State Government should ensure the roads leading to the market are widened, Federal Government can provide support and states must never shy away … from their responsibilities in the true spirit of true federalism,” the Senate President said.

After much deliberations, the lawmakers observed a minute silence in honor of all those who died in the fuel tanker fire incident in Onitsha.

They also resolved to send a delegation to visit and commiserate with the victims and the people of Anambra, as well as urged the state government to unravel the reasons why the Fire Service in Anambra could not speedily respond to the emergency.

The senators commend the Federal Government for the promise to assist the victims and the affected traders with relief materials and to work with the state government to forestall future fire incidents.

They, however, asked the Federal Government to include financial support in the package to the affected persons to enable them to restart their businesses.

The Senate also called on the Nigeria Police Force to work in conjunction with the FRSC to carry out a thorough investigation into the circumstances that led to the fuel tanker fire in Onitsha, with a view to prosecuting anyone found culpable.

It resolved to accelerate the passage of the Petroleum Tankers Safety Bill.