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Asian Markets In Negative Territory

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Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Thursday following the modest losses overnight on Wall Street and the plunge in crude oil prices amid lingering concerns about the U.S.-China trade war and its impact on global economic growth.

The Australian market is declining in choppy trading following the losses on Wall Street and the fall in crude oil prices. Investors also digested data that showed Australia's unemployment rate remained steady in May.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 8.40 points or 0.13 percent to 6,535.30, after falling to 6,535.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 14.30 points or 0.22 percent to 6,614.60. Australian stocks gave up early gains to close flat on Wednesday.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is losing more than 2 percent, BHP Group is declining almost 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.5 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices fell about 4 percent overnight. Woodside Petroleum is declining almost 2 percent, while Santos and Oil Search are lower by more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are mixed despite gold prices rising for a second straight session overnight. Evolution Mining is losing more than 2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is adding 0.4 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and National Australia Bank are edging higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent.

Commonwealth Bank said it has agreed to sell its Count Financial advice business to financial services firm CountPlus for A$2.5 million, but will continue to manage customer remediation related to past issues. Shares of Commonwealth Bank are adding 0.3 percent, while CountPlus' shares are surging almost 30 percent.

Wesfamers reported a 2.3 percent decrease in comparable sales at the struggling Target chain for the five months to May and said full-year earnings from its department stores could fall by as much as 17 percent from last year. Shares of Wesfarmers are losing more than 4 percent.

The federal financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC has ordered the appointment an external auditor to probe AfterPay Touch Group's compliance with money laundering and terrorism financing laws. AfterPay's shares are falling almost 7 percent.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or ACCC said it is examining whether the proposed takeover of Ruralco Holdings by Canadian fertilizer giant Nutrien could reduce wholesale competition and also impact prices as well as product range. Ruralco's shares are lower by more than 4 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the unemployment rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent in May, unchanged from the April reading, but missing forecasts for 5.1 percent.

The Australian economy added 42,300 jobs last month - blowing past expectations for an increase of 16,000 following the increase of 28,400 in the previous month.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6935, down from $0.6946 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is modestly lower following the negative cues from Wall Street and the fall in crude oil prices. Tech stocks are among the major decliners.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 62.73 points or 0.30 percent to 21,066.99, after touching a low of 21,026.10 in early trades. Japanese shares declined on Wednesday.

Shares of Japan Display are losing more than 10 percent after the Apple supplier announced new restructuring plans, including 1,200 job cuts and the closure of one factory in Japan. In addition, the company's President and CEO Yoshiyuki Tsukizaki will step down.

Among other tech stocks, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are losing more than 3 percent each.

The major exporters are also mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are lower by more than 1 percent each, while Canon is down 0.5 percent. Sony is adding almost 1 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is up 0.2 percent and Fast Retailing is rising 0.4 percent. In the auto space, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor are declining more than 1 percent each.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining more than 1 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are lower by more than 2 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, NH Foods is rising almost 2 percent.

On the flip side, JGC Corp. is losing more than 4 percent, while Sumco Corp., JXTG Holdings and Denka Co. are all lower by more than 3 percent each.

In economic news, Japan will see April results for its tertiary industry index and second-quarter results for the indexes for large manufacturing and large all industry from BSI today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 108 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong and South Korea are declining more than 1 percent each, while Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan are also lower.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lackluster performance on Wednesday before ending modestly lower as traders weighed lingering trade concerns against optimism about an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve. Partly offsetting the negative sentiment about trade, another report showing tame inflation has further fueled expectations that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates in the near future.

The Dow edged down 43.68 points or 0.2 percent to 26,004.83. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 29.85 points or 0.4 percent to 7,792.72 and the S&P 500 dipped 5.88 points or 0.2 percent to 2,879.84.

The major European markets also gave back ground on Wednesday after trending higher in recent sessions. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index dipped by 0.4 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures plunged sharply on Wednesday after data from the Energy Information Administration or EIA showed a jump in U.S. crude stockpiles for a second straight week. WTI crude for July delivery plunged $2.13 or about 4 percent to $51.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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