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Asian Markets Mostly Higher


Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday, with some of the markets paring early losses, as U.S. stock futures rebounded in Asian trades after media reports indicated that the U.S. Treasury Department has not labelled China as a currency manipulator in an internal report.

Overnight, U.S. stocks extended losses to post their worst two-day stretch in eight months amid worries about rising interest rates as well as the escalating US-China trade war.

The Australian market has pared initial losses and is now modestly lower, as weakness in banks and oil stocks were almost offset by gains in mining stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 7.90 point or 0.13 percent to 5,875.90, off a low of 5,846.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 5.80 points or 0.10 percent to 5,987.70. Australian shares fell sharply on Thursday, with the S&P/ASX 200 Index dipping to a five-month low.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac - are lower in a range of 0.3 percent to 1.3 percent as the banks faced intense questioning by a parliamentary committee over their governance failures.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices tumbled 3 percent overnight. Santos and Woodside Petroleum are declining almost 2 percent each, while Oil Search is losing almost 3 percent.

Among the big miners, BHP is rising more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing almost 2 percent, while Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 4 percent as iron ore and copper prices edged up overnight.

Fortescue Metals said Thursday it has launched a share buyback program of up to A$500 million.

Gold miners Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are rising more than 3 percent each after gold prices settled at a ten-week high as investors flocked to the safe-haven asset.

Fairfax Media said that its group revenue for the year-to-date period declined 5 percent from last year. Shares of Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment Co., which expect to complete their planned merger before December 31, are falling almost 14 percent and 13 percent respectively, following the announcement.

In the economic front, Australia will release August figures for new home loans today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7125, up from $0.7070 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session following the negative cues overnight from Wall Street in volatile trade amid worries about rising interest rates and escalating trade wars.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 82.77 points or 0.37 percent to 22,508.09, rising from a low of 22,323.43 in early trades. Japanese shares hit a one-month low on Thursday.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a slightly weaker safe-haven yen. Mitsubishi Electric and Sony is declining more than 1 percent each, while Panasonic is down almost 1 percent. Canon is adding 0.3 percent.

Among auto makers, Toyota is adding 0.2 percent, while Honda is losing almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by more than 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 2 percent.

In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is falling almost 5 percent and Inpex is declining more than 1 percent after crude oil prices tumbled 3 overnight.

In the tech sector, Advantest is rising almost 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing more than 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Trend Micro and Sumco Corp. are rising more than 3 percent each, while Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Screen Holdings and Cyberagent are higher by almost 3 percent each.

Among the other major losers, Dai-ichi Life is losing almost 5 percent, Sompo Holdings is down more than 4 percent and MS&AD Insurance is lower by almost 4 percent.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that the M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.8 percent on year in September, coming in at 1,006.5 trillion yen. That was shy of expectations for 2.9 percent, which would have been unchanged from the August reading.

The M3 money stock was up an annual 2.5 percent to 1,337.7 trillion yen - in line with expectations and unchanged from the previous month. The L money stock gained 2.3 percent on year to 1,787.4 trillion yen - up from the 2.2 percent gain a month earlier.

Japan will also see August results for its tertiary industry index today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 112 yen-range on Friday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday in a volatile session even though strength in the bond market contributed to a significant drop by treasury yields. Even with the decrease by yields, traders remained concerned about the outlook for the interest rates as well as the escalating trade war between the U.S. and China.

The Dow plunged 545.91 points or 2.1 percent to 25,052.83, the Nasdaq slumped 92.99 points or 1.3 percent to 7,329.06 and the S&P 500 plummeted 57.31 points or 2.1 percent to 2,728.37.

The major European markets also showed substantial moves to the downside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both dove by 1.9 percent.

Crude oil prices tumbled to more than two-week lows on Thursday following the release of a report showing a much bigger than expected weekly increase in crude oil inventories. WTI crude oil for November delivery plunged $2.20 or 3 percent to $70.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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