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Asian Markets Mostly Lower

asiancommentary aug16 10sep20 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Friday following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street as tech stocks resumed their decline and U.S. Senate Republicans failed to advance a new coronavirus stimulus bill.

The Australian market is losing following the negative cues from Wall Street and on worries about rising tensions between Australia and its largest trading partner China. Stocks are lower across the board.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 56.60 points or 0.96 percent to 5,851.90, after touching a low of 5836.20. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 58.60 points or 0.96 percent to 6,031.40.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is lower by almost 3 percent, BHP Group is declining more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down almost 1 percent.

Rio Tinto said that its chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques and two other executives have resigned following investor pressure over the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rockshelters in Western Australia. The Juukan rockshelters are Aboriginal sacred sites dating back 46,000 years.

Gold miners are weak even as gold prices rose for a third straight session overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 3 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by almost 2 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay and Appen are losing more than 2 percent each, while WiseTech Global is declining more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is declining more than 2 percent, Santos is lower by almost 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.7 percent after crude oil prices dropped overnight.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank - are down in a range of 0.6 percent to 1.0 percent.

The Japanese market recovered after a weak start and is modestly higher. Investor sentiment received a boost following news that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to ease voluntary restrictions on dining and travel amid a downward trend in coronavirus infections in the capital city.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 45.63 points or 0.20 percent to 23,281.10, after touching a low of 23,114.63 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is down 0.3 percent, while Fast Retailing is advancing more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly higher with modest gains on a weaker yen. Canon is rising 0.5 percent, Sony is adding 0.4 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.2 percent, while Panasonic is down 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is down 0.2 percent after U.S. tech stocks resumed their slide overnight. In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.3 percent.

Among automakers, Honda Motor is lower by almost 1 percent and Toyota is declining 0.2 percent. In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent and Inpex is losing almost 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Rakuten and Yamaha Corp. are rising more than 3 percent each, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, JTEKT Corp. and Citizen Watch are advancing almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Sekisui House is losing more than 4 percent, while Shinsei Bank and Suzuki Motor are lower by more than 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.2 percent on month in August, in line with forecasts and down from 0.8 percent in July.
Japan will also third-quarter results for the BSI large manufacturing index today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks extended a significant rebound from the previous session in early trading on Thursday reflecting strength among tech stocks, but pulled back sharply over the course of the session. Potentially adding to the negative sentiment, Senate Republicans failed to advance a new coronavirus stimulus bill. On the U.S. economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly came in unchanged in the week ended September 5.

The Dow tumbled 405.89 points or 1.5 percent to 27,534.58, the Nasdaq plummeted 221.97 points or 2 percent to 10,919.59 and the S&P 500 plunged 59.77 points or 1.8 percent to 3,339.19.

The major European markets moved modestly lower on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both dipped by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Thursday after data showed an increase in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended September 4. WTI crude for October delivery fell $0.75 or about 2 percent to $37.30 a barrel.

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