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Asian Markets In Negative Territory

asiancommentary dec17 09jul20 lt

Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Friday as the resurgence of new coronavirus infections in the U.S. and other parts of the world stoked concerns about the re-imposition of lockdown measures and dampened hopes of a global economic recovery. Investors also turned cautious ahead of the corporate earnings season beginning next week.

The Australian stock market is declining following the mostly negative cues overnight from Wall Street. In addition, lower commodity prices dragged down resources stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 15.60 points or 0.26 percent to 5,939.90, after falling to a low of 5,928.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 14.60 points or 0.24 percent to 6,060.30. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is lower by 0.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is edging up 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are weak after gold prices snapped a four-day winning streak to close lower overnight. Evolution Mining is lower by more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is declining more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is losing more than 2 percent, Woodside Petroleum is lower by almost 2 percent and Santos is down more than 1 percent after crude oil prices fell overnight.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is rising 0.3 percent.

Nine Entertainment Co. said its chief financial officer Paul Koppelman has resigned with immediate effect following the death of a family member, and group financial controller Greame Cassells will assume that role. The broadcaster's shares are lower by more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6961, compared to $0.6986 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is modestly lower in choppy trading, while the safe-haven yen strengthened following the mostly negative cues overnight from Wall Street. In Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported an all-time high of 224 new coronavirus cases in the city on Thursday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 65.19 points or 0.29 percent to 22,464.10, after rising to a high of 22,563.68 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing more than 2 percent. Fast Retailing is losing 3 percent after reporting a nearly 43 percent fall in profit for the nine-month period and also cutting its profit outlook for the full year.

Aeon Co. reported a net loss for the first quarter, but did not revise its earnings outlook for the full year. The retail group's shares are down almost 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Canon is declining more than 1 percent, Panasonic is lower by almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.4 percent, while Sony is rising more than 2 percent.

In the financial sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are declining more than 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is lower by more than 2 percent and Toyota is down more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, while Inpex is losing more than 3 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 2 percent after crude oil prices fell overnight.

Among the other major gainers, FamilyMart Co. is gaining more than 7 percent, while Nippon Kayaku, Casio Computer and TDK Corp. are rising almost 2 percent each.

Conversely, Credit Saison is losing more than 4 percent, while Citizen Watch and JTEKT Corp. are lower by more than 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.6 percent on month in June. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.4 percent following the 0.4 percent contraction in May.

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

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

U.S. stocks ended mostly lower on Thursday as the relentless surge in coronavirus cases across America raised fears of another lockdown in several states and dimmed prospects for a quick economic recovery. On the economic front, data from the Labor Department showed a bigger than expected decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits. The report said initial jobless claims tumbled to 1.314 million, a decrease of 99,000 from the previous week's revised level of 1.413 million.

The tech-laden Nasdaq composite index surged up 55.25 points or 0.53 percent to settle at 10,547.75, a record closing high. The Dow slid 361.19 points or 1.39 percent to settle at 15,706.09 and the broader S&P 500 drifted down 17.89 points or 0.56 percent to 3,152.05.

The major European markets all moved to the downside on Thursday for the third straight day. While the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1.21 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 1.73 percent and Germany's DAX edged down by 0.04 percent.

Crude oil prices fell on Thursday as a marked surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. on Wednesday raised fears of another lockdown and triggered concerns about near-term energy demand outlook. WTI crude for August ended down $1.28 or about 3.1 percent at $39.62 a barrel.

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