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Asian Markets Mixed Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Data

asiancommentary aug16 03oct19 lt

Asian stock markets are mixed on Friday despite the overnight gains on Wall Street after two days of significant losses amid optimism that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut interest rates later in October. Investors turned cautious ahead of the release of the U.S. Labor Department's closely-watched monthly jobs report for September later in the day.

The Australian market is advancing following the positive cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 24.70 points or 0.38 percent to 6,517.70, after falling to a high of 6,518.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 25.10 points or 0.38 percent to 6,636.80. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Thursday.

The major miners are higher. Fortescue Metals is rising more than 1 percent, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are adding almost 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are also rising despite crude oil prices extending losses overnight to an eight straight session. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are advancing almost 1 percent each, while Santos is adding 0.2 percent.

The big four banks are modestly higher. ANZ Banking is rising 0.2 percent, while Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are all edging up 0.1 percent each.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or ACCC is reportedly pushing ahead with a planned inquiry that will look at the barriers to entry for new players to compete with the big four banks.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are declining almost 1 percent each even after gold prices rose overnight.

In economic news, Australia is scheduled to release August numbers for retail sales today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6750, up from $0.6705 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is declining in choppy trading, despite the overnight gains on Wall Street. Investors remained cautious ahead of the release of the U.S. jobs report for September later in the day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 41.06 points or 0.19 percent to 21,300.68, after touching a high of 21,360.80 earlier. Japanese stocks closed notably lower on Thursday.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is declining almost 1 percent, while Canon and Panasonic are down 0.3 percent each. Sony is adding 0.6 percent.

In the auto sector, Honda Motor is rising 0.3 percent, while Toyota Motor is edging down 0.1 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is declining more than 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is rising 1 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is advancing 1 percent, while Fast Retailing is lower by 0.6 percent.

Tokio Marine said it will acquire U.S. peer Pure Group for $3.1 billion, as part of its efforts to diversify its insurance portfolio. The Japanese insurance provider's shares are down 0.3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Japan Petroleum is unchanged, while Inpex is declining almost 1 percent after crude oil prices extended losses overnight.

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

On the flip side, Aozora Bank, Fukuoka Financial, Taisei Corp. and Obayashi Corp. are losing more than 2 percent each, while Shinsei Bank is lower by almost 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 106 yen-range on Friday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday, partly due to bargain hunting. Confidence the Federal Reserve will continue to cut interest rates also contributed to the turnaround, as traders digested a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing U.S. service growth slowed by more than expected in the month of September.

While the Nasdaq surged up 87.02 points or 1.1 percent to 7,872.26, the S&P 500 advanced 23.02 points or 0.8 percent to 2,910.63 and the Dow rose 122.42 points or 0.5 percent to 26,201.04.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Thursday, as the German markets were closed for a holiday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday, extending losses to an eighth straight session, amid rising possibilities of a drop in near term energy demand. Crude for November delivery slipped $0.19 to $52.45 a barrel.

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