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Asian Markets Extend Losses On Trade Fears


Asian stock markets are lower on Friday, extending recent losses amid worries about a possible escalation in the U.S.-China trade war later in the day and after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. President Donald Trump hinted a trade fight with Japan could be next. The Trump administration could place tariffs on additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods as early as Friday after the end of a public comment period.

Investors are also cautious ahead of the release of U.S. jobs data for the month of August later in the day. The report is expected to show employment increased by about 191,000 jobs in August after rising by 157,000 jobs in July, while the unemployment rate is expected to dip to 3.8 percent from 3.9 percent.

The Australian market is extending its losing streak following another mixed performance overnight on Wall Street amid worries about an escalation in the U.S.-China trade war. Oil stocks are among the leading decliners.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 57.40 points or 0.93 percent to 6,103.00. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 55.60 points or 0.89 percent to 6,212.20.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices extended losses overnight. Woodside Petroleum is down almost 2 percent, Oil Search is declining more than 2 percent and Santos is lower by almost 3 percent.

Mining stocks are mostly higher. Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is adding 0.4 percent, while BHP Billiton is down almost 1 percent after its shares went ex-dividend.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is rising almost 1 percent and peer Evolution Mining is adding 0.2 percent after gold prices extended gains overnight.

In the banking sector, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent, while Westpac is down 0.2 percent.

The Fair Work Ombudsman said that Domino's Pizza has been hit with 17 formal cautions by and could face further action if it is found to be underpaying employees. However, the company's shares are rising more than 3 percent.

James Hardie Industries announced that president of international operations Jack Truong will succeed Louis Gries as its chief executive. The building parts supplier's shares are declining more than 1 percent.

On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the construction sector in Australia continued to expand in August, albeit at a slower pace, with a Performance of Construction Index score of 51.8. That's down from 52.0 in July, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Australia will also release July figures for home loans later today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7187, up from $0.7169 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is losing further ground while the safe-haven yen strengthened amid worries about an escalation in U.S.-China trade tensions and after the Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. President Donald Trump hinted a trade fight with Japan could be next. Tech stocks and exporters are among the leading decliners.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 209.26 points or 0.93 percent to 22,278.68, after touching a low of 22,210.67 in early trades. The Nikkei Index is losing for a sixth straight day.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Sony, Canon, Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are all declining more than 1 percent each.

In the auto space, Toyota is losing 1 percent and Honda is down almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down almost 1 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is losing almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 2 percent after crude oil prices extended losses overnight.

Among the major gainers, Furukawa Co. is gaining almost 2 percent, while Chubu Electric Power and Kansai Electric Power are rising more than 1 percent each.

On the flip side, Screen Holdings is losing more than 7 percent, Advantest is declining more than 6 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 6 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was up 0.1 percent on year in July, coming in at 283,387 yen. That beat expectations for a decline of 0.9 percent following the 1.2 percent drop in June.

Japan will also see July data for labor cash earnings and its leading and coincident indexes today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mostly lower on Thursday, extending the decline seen over the two previous sessions amid weakness in technology stocks. The release of a slew of U.S. economic data, including a report from payroll processor ADP showing private sector employment rose by less than expected in the month of August also weighed on the markets.

While the Dow inched up 20.88 points or 0.1 percent to 25,995.87, the Nasdaq slumped 72.45 points or 0.9 percent to 7,922.73 and the S&P 500 fell 10.55 points or 0.4 percent at 2,878.05.

The major European markets also moved lower over the course of the session. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.7 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices fell on Thursday as traders weighed the possibility of a drop in demand for crude due to U.S.-China trade tensions and the current economic turmoil in some emerging markets. Crude for October delivery slumped $0.95 or 1.4 percent to $67.77 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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