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Asian Markets Mostly Lower


Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Monday following the weak cues from Wall Street Friday amid toned down expectations of an aggressive interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve later this month and on rising tensions in the Middle East. Crude oil prices rose nearly 1 percent, extending gains in Asian trading.

The Australian market is modestly lower as gains by mining and oil stocks were offset by weakness in banks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 12.80 points or 0.19 percent to 6,687.50, off a low of 6,685.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 10.20 points or 0.15 percent to 6,776.00. Australian stocks closed higher on Friday.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent, Santos is up 0.7 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.6 percent after crude oil prices rose on Friday.

The major miners are also higher. Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 1 percent, BHP Group is advancing 1 percent and Rio Tinto is up 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are gaining despite gold prices edging lower on Friday. Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising 0.6 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7045, compared to $0.7068 on Friday.

The Japanese market pared early losses and is now modestly lower. Investors digested news that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition retained its majority in Sunday's upper house of Parliament elections.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 53.70 points or 0.25 percent to 21,413.29, after touching a low of 21,317.85 earlier. Japanese stocks closed notably higher on Friday.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Canon is lower by almost 1 percent and Sony is down 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.3 percent and Panasonic is rising 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 1 percent.

In the auto space, Toyota Motor is advancing almost 1 percent, while Honda Motor is lower by 0.2 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is up 0.5 percent while Japan Petroleum is edging down 0.1 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is gaining more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is lower by 0.3 percent.

Among the major gainers, Chiyoda is rising more than 4 percent, IHI Corp. is gaining almost 4 percent and Taiyo Yuden is higher by more than 3 percent.

On the flip side, Asahi Group is losing more than 6 percent after the Japanese brewer agreed to acquire the Australian operations of Belgian company Anheuser-Busch InBev for an enterprise value of A$16 billion.

Toho Co. is lower by almost 5 percent, while Shiseido Co., Daiichi Sankyo and Olympus are down more than 2 percent.

In economic news, Japan will provide June numbers for convenience store sales today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 107 yen range on Monday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks failed to sustain an early upward move and closed lower on Friday. The initial strength reflected a positive reaction to upbeat earnings news from software giant Microsoft Corp. Buying interest waned shortly after the start of trading, however, as traders looked ahead to the slew of earnings news due to be released next week and digesting the New York Federal Reserve's efforts to walk back comments President John Williams made Thursday that seemed to endorse a near-term interest rate cut.

The Dow fell 68.77 points or 0.3 percent to 27,154.20, the Nasdaq slid 60.75 points or 0.7 percent to 8,146.49 and the S&P 500 dropped 18.50 points or 0.6 percent to 2,976.61.

The major European markets showed modest moves to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices rose on Friday after the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a major chokepoint for global crude flows. WTI crude futures for August ended up $0.33 or about 0.6 percent at $55.63 a barrel. In Asian trading Monday, crude oil is further gaining $0.53 or 0.95 percent to $56.16 a barrel.

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