Asian stock markets are mostly trading notably lower on Friday with investors pressing sales, tracking weak cues from the U.S. and European markets amid renewed worries about the financial situation in the eurozone.
In the Australian market, mining and energy stocks are among the prominent losers. Financial, consumer staples and industrial stocks are also mostly trading lower.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,212.7, is currently trading at 4,228, down 41.5 points or 1 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 41.1 points or 1 percent at 4,249, off the day's low of 4,235.1.
BHP Billiton (BHP: Quote,BBL: Quote) shares are down 1.8 percent after the company said it has to write down the value of its American shale gas assets by A$2.73 billion, forced by a glut of gas supply in the United States and subsequent low gas prices there.
Rio Tinto (RIO: Quote,RIO.L) is down by around 3.5 percent, Fortescue Metals is trading lower by 2.5 percent and Newcrest Mining is down with a loss of 2 percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum is down 1.5 percent, Santos is trading lower by 1.8 percent and Caltex Australia is down with a loss of 3.2 percent, while Oil Search and Origin Energy are trading lower by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank , Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are down 0.3 to 0.7 percent, while Westpac (WBK: Quote) is losing about 1.2 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are also trading weak.
Boart Longyear is down as much as 6 percent. Sims Metal Management, Lynas Corporation, Iluka Resources, Arrium, Bluescope Steel, Alumina and Panaust are trading lower by 3.5 to 4.5 percent.
Campbell Brothers, Oz Minerals, Atlas Iron, Leighton Holdings, Beach Energy, Amcor and Aurora Oil & Gas are also trading sharply lower.
ResMed (RMD: Quote) is up nearly 8.5 percent. ResMed's annual profit rose 12 percent thanks to stronger revenue in the United States. Profit in the final three months of the financial year was up 31 percent from the previous corresponding period to A$76.8 million, the company said.
On the economic front, Australia's services sector continued to contract in July, the Australian Industry Group reported Friday. The AIG/Commonwealth Bank Performance of Services index fell to 46.5 from the June reading of 48.8.
AIG said declines in sales and new orders sent the sector further into contraction. The employment category was also weaker, falling 4.8 index points to 44.3.
"The fall in the PSI for July highlights the fragility of business conditions in the services sector which is struggling to build momentum," said AIG Chief Executive Innes Willox.
The Japanese stock market is down sharply with investors indulging in some heavy selling at several counters following a weak lead from the U.S. and European markets. Some weak earnings reports from top Japanese firms are also contributing to the market's sharp decline.
Machinery, non-ferrous metals, construction, steel and glass & ceramics shares are among the major losers. Shares from automobile, services and precision instruments sections are also mostly trading weak.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index is down 136.8 points or 1.6 percent at 8,516.3.
Sharp Corp shares are down nearly 30 percent after the company widened its full-year loss forecast.
Sony Corp (SNE: Quote,SON.L) shares too are down sharply on a downward revision in earnings outlook. The stock is currently trading lower by nearly 7 percent.
Nippon Sheet Glass is trading lower by over 11 percent. Mitsumi Electric is down with a loss of 9 percent. Teijin is down 6.2 percent, while Sumco Corp, Nippon Paper Group and Alps Electric are trading lower by 5 to 5.5 percent.
Fuji Electric, Pacific Metals, Toho Zinc, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Konica Minolta Holdings, Toshiba Corp, JFE Holdings, Panasonic Corp, Mazda Motor and Advantest Corp (ATE: Quote) are all trading lower by 3 to 5 percent.
GS Yuasa, Japan Steel Works, Nippon Electric Glass, Sumitomo Metal Industries, Asahi Glass, Hino Motors, NEC Corp, Nikon Corp, Casio Computer, Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU: Quote) are also trading sharply lower.
Among the few gainers in the Nikkei index, Tokyo Electric Power, Konami Corp and Fast Retailing are up 3.3 to 3.6 percent.
Aozora Bank is up 2.6 percent, Taiheiyo Cement is trading 1.7 percent up and Sumitomo Osaka Cement is gaining 1.2 percent, while Toyota Motor (TM: Quote,TYT.L), Honda Motor (HMC: Quote) and Nissan Chemical Industries are up with modest gains.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 78 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 78.12 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, New Zealand and South Korea are trading notably lower. Singapore is down with modest losses, while Shanghai and Malaysia are bucking the trend and trading marginally up. Markets across the region had ended on a mixed note on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks drifted lower on Thursday, extending the downward move seen over the course of the three previous sessions. A negative reaction to the latest headlines out of Europe contributed to the continued weakness on Wall Street.
The major averages climbed well off their worst levels going into the close but still ended the day in the red. The Dow ended down 92.2 points or 0.7 percent at 12,878.9, the Nasdaq declined 10.4 points or 0.4 percent to 2,909.8 and the S&P 500 dropped 10.1 points or 0.7 percent to 1,365.
Major European markets too ended weak on Thursday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 0.9 percent, while the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index plummeted by 2.2 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended sharply lower on Thursday, due largely on concerns over the eurozone sovereign debt crisis. Crude for September delivery shed $1.78 or 2 percent to close at $87.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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