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Asian Markets Exhibit Mixed Trend

asiancommentary jan22 09aug20 lt

Asian stock markets are mixed on Monday as investors digested news that U.S. President Donald Trump has signed executive orders aimed at extending coronavirus relief to Americans.

In addition, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said they were open to restarting talks on funding, raising hopes of additional stimulus measures. Nevertheless, worries about escalating U.S.-China tensions weighed on the markets. The Japanese market is closed for a holiday.

The Australian market is rising following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday. However, investors remained cautious due to the rising number of coronavirus cases in Australia and escalating U.S.-China tensions.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 41.80 points or 0.70 percent to 6,046.60, after touching a high of 6,048.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 38.80 points or 0.63 percent to 6,183.70. Australian stocks closed lower on Friday.

The big four banks - National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac - are notably higher in a range of 1.7 percent to 2.0 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto and BHP Group are declining 0.6 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are also lower after gold prices fell about 2 percent on Friday. Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.6 percent.

In the oil sector, Santos is adding almost 1 percent and Oil Search is up 0.3 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is declining 1 percent after crude oil prices ended lower on Friday.

Aurizon Holdings reported a 28 percent increase in full-year profit and declared a final dividend, saying that the coronavirus pandemic had no material impact on the company's financial performance. The rail company's shares are adding 0.4 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Taiwan and Shanghai are also higher, while New Zealand and Indonesia are little changed with a positive bias. Hong Kong and Malaysia are lower. The markets in Japan and Singapore are closed for Mountain Day and National Day holidays, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks ended slightly higher on Friday after languishing in the red for most part of the day's session. Growing uncertainty about a new coronavirus relief plan and escalating tensions between the U.S. and China following the Trump administration unveiling a ban on U.S. transactions with TikTok and WeChat weighed on the market. Data showing a bigger-than-expected increase in U.S. employment in the month of July failed to lift sentiment.

While the Dow ended up 46.50 points or 0.17 percent at 17,433.48, extending gains to a sixth session, the Nasdaq snapped a seven-day winning streak as it settled at 11,010.98 with a loss of 97.09 points or 0.87 percent. The broader S&P 500 index edged up 2.12 points or 0.06 percent to settle at 3,351.28, closing higher for a sixth consecutive day.

The major European markets eked out small gains on Friday. Germany's DAX advanced 0.66 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 and France's CAC 40 both edged up by 0.09 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday amid concerns about the outlook for energy demand following reports showing spikes in coronavirus cases in several parts across the world. WTI crude for September ended down $0.67 or about 1.6 percent at $41.28 a barrel.

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