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Asian Markets Mostly Lower


Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Friday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street amid rising trade tensions between the U.S. and China as well as the U.S. introduction of new sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile, the Turkish lira tumbled amid a diplomatic rift between the U.S. and Turkey.

The Australian market is edging lower following the mixed cues from Wall Street. Investors also digested mixed local corporate earnings results. Gains by banks were offset by weakness in mining and oil stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 3.10 points or 0.05 percent to 6,294.60, off a low of 6,294.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 2.10 points or 0.03 percent to 6,381.50.

The major miners are mostly lower. BHP Billiton is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is down 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto is lower by 0.3 percent.

BHP Billiton said a federal court in Brazil has approved a settlement deal between its joint venture Samarco and Brazil authorities over a deadly 2015 dam collapse.

Oil stocks are mostly lower after crude oil prices edged lower overnight. Santos is rising 0.7 percent, while Oil Search is down 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is lower by 0.2 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent.

Gold miners are advancing even as gold prices edged lower. Evolution Mining is adding 0.4 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising almost 1 percent.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. reported a net loss that widened from last year to $1.4 billion on accounting writedowns, while revenue rose 11 percent. The publishing company's shares are adding almost 1 percent.

Baby Bunting reported a 29 percent fall in full-year profit after the collapse of some competitors, while revenue rose 9 percent. However, the company's shares are gaining almost 26 percent.

REA Group said its full-year net profit rose 23 percent, while revenue grew 20 percent despite a housing slowdown. The real estate giant's shares are gaining more than 2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at US$0.7369, down from US$0.7431 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session, tracking the mixed cues from Wall Street and a stronger yen amid rising global trade tensions and as investors focused on the U.S.-Japan trade talks in Washington.

Investors shrugged off data that showed Japan's economy expanded at a faster-than-expected rate in the second quarter.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 119.50 points or 0.53 percent to 22,478.89, after touching a low of 22,439.76 earlier.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are declining almost 1 percent each, Sony is losing 0.6 percent and Canon is edging down less than 0.1 percent.

In the auto space, Toyota is down 0.1 percent, while Honda is adding 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by 1 percent. Among oil stocks, Inpex is losing almost 4 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 0.5 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Ebara Corp. is gaining more than 12 percent, Showa Shell Sekiyu is rising 9 percent and Dai Nippon Printing is higher by almost 5 percent.

On the flip side, GS Yuasa Corp. is losing almost 7 percent, Sumco Corp. is lower by more than 4 percent and Citizen Watch is down almost 4 percent.

In economic news, Japan's gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent on quarter in the second quarter of 2018, the Cabinet Office said in Friday's preliminary reading. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent following the 0.2 percent loss in the three months prior.

The Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.5 percent on month in July. That beat forecasts for a gain of 0.2 percent, which would have been unchanged from the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 111 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are also lower, while New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia are higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed for a second straight session on Thursday as traders remained reluctant to make significant moves as they weighed lingering trade war concerns against largely upbeat corporate earnings news. On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly edged lower in the week ended August 4.

While the Nasdaq inched up 3.46 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 7,891.78, the Dow fell 74.52 points or 0.3 percent to 25,509.23 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.12 points or 0.1 percent to 2,853.58.

The major European markets also ended mixed on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dropped by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices steadied on Thursday after steep losses in the previous session. WTI crude declined $0.13 or 0.19 percent to close at $66.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a fresh seven-week low.

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