Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Friday, with most of the markets down with sharp losses after the overnight plunge on Wall Street sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average into correction territory. Worries about rising U.S. bond yields and higher interest rates have caused stocks to tumble from record highs over the past week.
The Australian market is notably lower following the overnight plunge on Wall Street and as oil and metal prices slid to their lowest in several weeks.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 87.50 points or 1.49 percent to 5,803.20, off a low of 5,786.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 90.60 points or 1.51 percent to 5,904.60. Australian shares ended modestly higher on Thursday.
In the oil sector, Santos is losing almost 3 percent, Woodside Petroleum is down more than 2 percent and Oil Search is declining almost 2 percent after crude oil prices fell 1 percent overnight.
Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is declining almost 2 percent, BHP Billiton is losing more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.3 percent.
Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 0.9 percent to 1.2 percent. Shares of National Australia Bank are edging down less than 0.1 percent.
Bucking the trend, gold miners Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are adding almost 2 percent and 6 percent, respectively after gold prices edged higher overnight.
Skycity Entertainment Group reported an 11.6 percent increase in first-half group net profit and said that while the Darwin casino's future is still under review, the property's financial performance is expected to improve in the second half of the year. The casinos operator's shares are advancing more than 1 percent.
News Corp. reported a first-half net loss that narrowed from last year, reflecting a 32 percent increase in earnings from its digital real estate business. However, the media giant's shares are losing almost 1 percent.
REA Group's Australian business unit reported a 21 percent increase in half-year underlying profit, while net profit fell 55 percent. The News Corp. controlled digital real estate advertiser's shares are up 0.2 percent.
Myer Holdings has warned of more writedowns after its sales fell 6.5 percent in the key January trading period. The department store chain's shares are falling almost 10 percent.
On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of new home loans issued in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 2.3 percent on month in December, coming in at 55,161. That missed forecasts for a decline of 1.0 percent following the 2.1 percent increase in November.
Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of Australia will release its quarterly statement on monetary policy later in the day.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar fell below the $0.78 level on Thursday. The local unit was quoted at US$0.7789, down from US$0.7825 on Wednesday.
The Japanese market is sharply lower after U.S. stocks plunged overnight and the safe-have yen strengthened again.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 604.80 points or 2.76 percent to 21,286.06, off a low of 21,128.52 earlier. On Thursday, Japanese shares rose sharply on bargain hunting.
The major exporters are notably lower as the yen strengthened. Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are declining more than 3 percent each, Panasonic is losing almost 3 percent and Canon is down more than 2 percent. SoftBank is lower by more than 1 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota is declining almost 2 percent and Honda is losing 3 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining almost 3 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is falling 5 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is lower by almost 5 percent after crude oil prices fell 1 percent overnight.
Among the market's best performers, Nikon Corp. is rising more than 3 percent, Terumo Corp. is advancing more than 2 percent and Shiseido Co. is advancing almost 2 percent.
On the flip side, DeNA is losing more than 9 percent, Furukawa Co. is declining more than 6 percent and Showa Denko is down 6 percent.
In economic news, the Bank of Japan said the M2 money stock in Japan was up 3.4 percent on year in January, coming in at 992.0 trillion yen. That follows the 3.6 percent jump in December. The M3 money stock advanced an annual 2.9 percent to 1,321.1 trillion yen, slowing from the 3.1 percent jump in the previous month.
Japan will see December numbers for its tertiary industry index today.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen-range on Friday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is losing almost 4 percent, Shanghai is declining more than 3 percent, South Korea and Taiwan are down more than 2 percent, and Singapore is lower by almost 2 percent. Also, New Zealand and Malaysia are losing more than 1 percent each, and Indonesia is down almost 1 percent.
On Wall Street, stocks were hammered yet again Thursday, as markets quickly tanked after an initial move higher. Stocks have tumbled from record highs over the past week, as traders grew concerned about inflation and higher interest rates.
The Dow shed 1,032.89 points or 4.15 percent to 23,860.46, and is down more than 10 percent from all-time highs set late January. The S&P 500 index closed off 100.66 points or 3.75 percent at 2,581.00, while the Nasdaq Composite Index was down 274.83 points, or 3.9 percent at 6,777.16.
After snapping a seven session losing streak yesterday, the European markets dropped again Thursday. The DAX of Germany dropped 2.62 percent, the CAC 40 of France fell 1.98 percent and the FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 1.49 percent.
Crude oil futures fell Thursday, slipping to their lowest in five weeks due to a stronger dollar and demand concerns. WTI crude declined $0.64 or 1 percent to settle at $61.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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