Despite the European Central Bank leaving rates unchanged as expected and the Bank of England annoucing some monetary easing measures, Asian stock markets are mostly trading notably lower on Friday amid worries about the financial situation in the eurozone.
Caution ahead of the crucial U.S. jobs data and some weak economic reports from the Asian region are also contributing to the weakness. A flat lead from Wall Street where stocks ended mixed overnight appears to be keeping investors on the sidelines.
In the Australian market, energy, mining, healthcare and information technology stocks are trading weak. Financial and industrial stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is down 21.5 points or 0.5 percent at 4,147.7. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,189.4, down 20.5 points or 0.5 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank is trading flat. Westpac and and National Australia Bank are trading weak, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading 0.5 percent up.
WorleyParsons is trading lower by around 2.3 percent. Paladin Energy is trading 2.2 percent down. Leighton Holdings, Santos, Arrium and Beach Energy are trading lower by 1.5 to 2 percent.
Metcash, Ramsay Healthcare, Atlas Iron, Ansell, Graincorp, Newcrest Mining, Whitheaven Coal, Iluka Resources and Origin Energy are all trading lower by 1 to 1.4 percent.
Bluescope Steel is up 6.3 percent. Lynas Corporation, Regis Resources, Boral, David Jones and Investa Office Fund are the other notable gainers in the ASX 100 index.
Shares of Fairfax lost over 3 percent in early trades after mining billionaire Gina Rinehart reduced her stake in the troubled media company.
In economic news, the Australian Industry Group said Friday an that index measuring the construction industry in Australia came in with a score of 34.8 in June, up barely from 34.7 in May but signaling contraction for the 25th consecutive month. Among the individual components of the survey, apartment construction saw a score of 21.8, while commercial construction was at just 26.6.
Electric power, foods, real estate and retail stocks opened on a firm note, but gave up most of their gains as the session progressed. Electric machinery, oil, transport and financial stocks were trading slightly weak.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which briefly rebounded into positive territory after a weak start, was down 32.3 points or 0.4 percent at 9,047.5 when the morning session ended.
Among the prominent losers in the Nikkei index, GS Yuasa Corp declined by 5.5 percent, TDK Corp and Konica Minolta were down nearly 4 percent, Sumitomo Heavy Industries lost 3.7 percent and IHI Corp drifted down by 3.5 percent.
Fujitsu, NEC Corp, Mitsubishi Electric, Taiyo Yuden and Konami Corp were all trading lower by over 2.5 percent. JFE Holdings, Kobe Steel, Showa Denko KK, Canon Inc, Nippon Steel Corp, Fanuc and Trend Micro also declined sharply.
Meanwhile, Hitachi Zosen, Taisei Corp, Mitsubishi Chemicals, J Front Retailing and Sumitomo Realty gained 2 to 5 percent.
Ebara Corp, Nikon Corp, Japan Tobacco and Mitsui Engineering moved up by 1.7 to 2 percent. Shinsei Bank, Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, JGC Corp, Tokyu Land and MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings also posted notable gains.
On the economic front, Japan is scheduled to release preliminary May figures for its leading and coincident indexes. Analysts are looking for a reading of 95.0 on the leading index and 95.7 on the coincident, down from 95.6 and 96.9 respectively, in April.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded near the 80 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.93 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably lower. New Zealand is down marginally, while Malaysia is up slightly over the unchanged line.
On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lackluster performance on Thursday. Although the major averages closed mixed, the markets showed a negative bias towards the end of the session. Traders largely shrugged off a report from ADP showing stronger than expected private sector job growth as well as a Labor Department report showing an unexpected drop in weekly jobless claims.
While the Nasdaq edged up 0.04 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,976.1, the Dow ended down 47.1 points or 0.4 percent at 12,896.7 and the S&P 500 slid 6.4 points or 0.5 percent to 1,367.6.
Major European markets also ended mixed on Thursday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged up by 0.1 percent, while the German DAX index declined by 0.5 percent and the French CAC 40 index lost 1.2 percent.
U.S. crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday, on a stronger dollar and cues from the European and U.S. equity markets. Oil prices were under pressure despite a sharp fall in U.S. crude stockpiles for the week ended June 29 as imports fell.
Crude for August delivery shed $0.44 or 0.5 percent to close at $87.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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