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Asian Markets Mostly Lower Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Data

asiancommentary dec21 04jun20 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Friday with investors taking profits after recent strength in the markets and also on caution ahead of the release of the closely-watched U.S. jobs data for May later today.

Economists currently expect employment to tumble by about 8.0 million jobs in May after plunging by 20.5 million jobs in April. The unemployment rate is expected to jump to 19.8 percent from 14.7 percent.

The Australian market is declining after four straight days of gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 8.30 points or 0.14 percent to 5,983.50, after touching a low of 5963.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 8.20 points or 0.13 percent to 6,103.80. Australian stocks closed higher for a fourth day on Thursday.

Gold miners are weak even as gold prices snapped a four-day losing streak and rose overnight. Evolution Mining is losing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.3 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is adding 0.2 percent and BHP is edging up 0.1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining almost 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks are rising. National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac 1.2 are higher in a range of 1.1 percent to 1.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding 0.6 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is gaining more than 3 percent, Santos is advancing almost 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.6 percent after crude oil prices edged higher overnight.

Kogan.com reported a surge in sales during the months of April and May, benefiting from a jump in online spending amid the COVID-19 shutdown. The online shopping trader's shares are gaining more than 9 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will see May results for the Performance of Service Index from the Australian Industry Group today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6942, compared to Thursday's close of $0.6890.

The Japanese market is modestly lower, snapping a four-day winning streak following the mixed cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 83.84 points or 0.37 percent to 22,611.90, after touching a low of 22,563.56 in early trades. Japanese shares rose for the fourth straight day on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.1 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a slightly weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is declining more than 1 percent, Sony is lower by 0.5 percent and Panasonic is down 0.2 percent, while Canon is adding 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is higher by almost 1 percent and Advantest is rising 0.7 percent. Among automakers, Honda Motor is adding more than 1 percent and Toyota is up 0.3 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 2 percent and Inpex is losing 0.5 percent even as crude oil prices edged higher overnight.

Among the major gainers, Alps Alpine is gaining more than 6 percent, T&D Holdings is rising more than 4 percent and ANA Holdings is higher by almost 4 percent.

On the flip side, Z Holdings is losing more than 4 percent, Cyberagent is lower by more than 3 percent and M3 Inc. is declining almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the average of household spending in Japan was down 11.1 percent on year in April, coming in at 267,922 yen. That beat expectations for a drop of 15.4 percent on year following the 6.0 percent fall in March.

Japan will also release preliminary April data for its leading and coincident indexes today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 109 yen-range on Friday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia are also lower, while South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed in choppy trading on Thursday as traders took a breath to digest the recent strength in the markets, which lifted the Nasdaq-100 to a record intraday high in early trading. Traders also seemed reluctant to make more significant moves ahead of the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

While the Dow inched up 11.93 points or 0.1 percent to a three-month closing high of 26,281.82, the Nasdaq slid 67.10 points or 0.7 percent to 9,615.81 and the S&P 500 fell 10.52 points or 0.3 percent to 3,112.35.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices edged higher on Thursday after data showed leading oil producers were in compliance with agreed production cuts. WTI crude oil for July delivery inched up $0.12 or about 0.3 percent to $37.41 a barrel.

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