Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Trade War Fears

asianmarkets 011615 02jul18

Asian stock markets are mostly lower and the Chinese yuan came under pressure on Tuesday as worries about trade wars between the U.S. and other major economies weighed on investor sentiment. Tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports to the U.S. and a matching $34 billion worth of U.S. exports to China are due to take effect on July 6.

The Australian market is advancing following the positive cues from Wall Street. Oil stocks are among the leading gainers, offsetting weakness in the mining sector.

Nevertheless, investors are cautious ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy decision due later in the day. The RBA is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at a record low of 1.50 percent.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 10.30 points or 0.17 percent to 6,188.10, off a high of 6,194.20. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 11.70 points or 0.19 percent to 6,285.00.

The major miners are mostly lower. Rio Tinto is losing 1 percent and BHP Billiton is declining more than 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices fell overnight to its lowest since December. Evolution Mining is down 0.2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.1 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is rising 0.2 percent and ANZ Banking is up 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly higher despite crude oil prices falling slightly overnight. Oil Search is adding 0.3 percent and Santos is rising 0.4 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is edging down 0.1 percent.

Shares of Sigma Healthcare are gaining more than 3 percent after plunging to a seven-year low in the previous session as it lost a contract to supply the Chemist Warehouse discount chemist chain from mid-2019. Shares of Ebos Group, which won the contract, are gaining more than 5 percent.

On the economic front, Australia also will see May numbers for building approvals today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower on Tuesday against the U.S. dollar ahead of the RBA's rate decision. The local unit was trading at US$0.7342, down from $0.7378 on Monday.

The Japanese market drifted into negative territory after opening higher following the modest gains overnight on Wall Street and on a weaker yen.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 80.96 points or 0.37 percent to 21,730.97, after rising to a high of 21,927.81 in early trades.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Canon is declining almost 2 percent, Panasonic is lower by 0.5 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is losing 0.3 percent, while Sony is adding 0.6 percent.

Automaker Toyota is adding 0.5 percent and Honda is rising 0.4 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.5 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining 0.3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is rising almost 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is down 0.3 percent after crude oil prices declined slightly overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Minebea Mitsumi is rising more than 5 percent, while Ricoh Co., Seiko Epson and Tokai Carbon are higher by more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Furukawa Electric is losing more than 3 percent and Mitsubishi Materials is lower by almost 3 percent, while Mitsui Mining & Smelting and Citizen Watch are down more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that the monetary base in Japan advanced 7.4 percent on year in June, coming in at 493.363 trillion yen. That follows the 8.1 percent gain in May.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 110 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is lower by almost 3 percent, while Shanghai and Indonesia are losing more than 1 percent each. Singapore and Malaysia are also lower.
Meanwhile, New Zealand is advancing more than 1 percent, while South Korea and Taiwan are edging higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Monday following the release of a report from the Institute for Supply management that showed growth in U.S. manufacturing activity unexpectedly accelerated in the month of June. Stocks initially moved lower on lingering trade concerns as tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese imports to the U.S. and a matching $34 billion worth of U.S. exports to China are due to take effect on July 6.

While the Nasdaq advanced 57.38 points or 0.8 percent to 7,567.69, the Dow edged up 35.77 points or 0.2 percent to 24,307.18 and the S&P 500 rose 8.34 points or 0.3 percent to 2,726.71.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Monday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1.2 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index dropped by 0.9 percent and the German DAX Index fell by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices fell slightly Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump blasted OPEC for artificially boosting oil prices. August WTI crude fell $0.21 or 0.3 percent to settle at $73.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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