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Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trades

asiancommentary aug20 09dec19 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Tuesday with investors turning cautious amid lingering uncertainty about a trade deal between the U.S. and China before the next round of tariffs on Chinese goods set to take effect on December 15. Trading activity also remained subdued ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement due on Wednesday.

The Australian market is modestly lower in choppy trading. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 9.30 points or 0.14 percent to 6,720.70, after touching a high of 6,734.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 10.10 points or 0.15 percent to 6,826.30.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices closed modestly lower overnight. Santos is declining 0.5 percent, Oil Search is down 0.4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is lower by 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are also declining after gold prices ended flat overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks are mostly unchanged. National Australia Bank is lower by almost 1 percent and ANZ Banking is down 0.1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are edging up 0.1 percent each.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 1 percent, while BHP and Rio Tinto are advancing almost 1 percent each.

Prime Media Group said it is consulting with Seven Media after reports quoted two of Prime Media's major shareholders, WIN Corp owner Bruce Gordon and Australian Community Media owner Antony Catalano, as saying they will block Seven Media's A$64 million takeover of Prime Media. Shares of Prime Media are unchanged.

WiseTech Global said it has acquired South Korea-based customs solutions company Ready Korea in a deal worth a potential A$20 million. Shares of WiseTech are adding 0.3 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that residential property prices in Australia were up 2.4 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2019. That beat expectations for an increase of 1.5 percent following the 0.7 percent decline in the second quarter.

Australia will also see November results for the surveys of business confidence and conditions from NAB today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6823, down from $0.6832 on Monday.

The Japanese market is also modestly lower. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 38.57 points or 0.16 percent to 23,392.13, after touching a low of 23,336.93 earlier.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is declining more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is down 0.7 percent.

The major exporters are mixed on a slightly weaker yen. Sony is advancing more than 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining 0.7 percent and Panasonic is unchanged.

In the tech space, Advantest is unchanged, while Tokyo Electron is declining almost 1 percent. Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is rising 0.5 percent, while Toyota Motor is down 0.3 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is lower by 0.7 percent and Inpex is declining 0.5 percent after crude oil prices edged lower overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Nippon Suisan Kaisha and Nippon Sheet Glass are rising more than 2 percent each, while Casio Computer is higher by 2 percent.

On the flip side, Tokuyama Corp., Screen Holdings and Kansai Electric Power are all losing more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said the M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.8 percent on year in November, coming in at 1,038.4 trillion yen. That's up from the downwardly revised 2.4 percent in October.

The M3 money stock rose an annual 2.3 percent, up from the downwardly revised 2.0 percent in the previous month.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai and Taiwan are modestly lower, while Malaysia and Hong Kong are edging lower. New Zealand and South Korea are rising, while Singapore and Indonesia are little changed.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Monday as some traders looked to cash in on the recent strength in the markets. Lingering uncertainty about U.S.-China trade talks also weighed on the markets, as new 15 percent tariffs on $165 billion worth of Chinese imports are set to take effect this coming Sunday.

The Dow slid 105.46 points or 0.4 percent to 27,909.60, the Nasdaq fell 34.70 points or 0.4 percent to 8,621.83 and the S&P 500 dropped 9.95 points or 0.3 percent to 3,135.96.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Monday amid concerns over the outlook for energy demand after data showed another drop in Chinese exports and on uncertainty about the U.S. and China signing a phase one deal before the commencement of the next round of tariff hikes. WTI crude for January ended down $0.18, or about 0.3 percent, at $59.02 a barrel.

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