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Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

asiancommentary dec03 15oct20 lt

Asian stock markets are mixed on Friday as uncertainty about new U.S. fiscal stimulus and the resurgence in coronavirus cases in Europe as well as the U.S. stoked concerns about a global economic recovery. An unexpected increase in U.S. weekly jobless claims further dampened sentiment.

The Australian market has is little changed after a weak start following the negative cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 3.40 points or 0.05 percent to 6,206.90, after touching a low of 6,192.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is edging up 0.80 points or 0.01 percent to 6,415.00. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Thursday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is declining almost 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.6 percent, while Fortescue Metals is advancing almost 1 percent.

Rio Tinto reported a 1 percent decrease in third-quarter iron ore production, while shipments were down 5 percent, but maintained its full-year production guidance across its key products.

Oil stocks are mostly lower after crude oil prices slipped overnight. Oil Search is down 0.7 percent and Santos is lower by 0.6 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged higher overnight. Newcrest Mining is adding 0.4 percent, while Evolution Mining is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.7 percent.

The Japanese market is edging higher after a weak start as U.S. stocks closed lower overnight for a third straight session. Expectations of new stimulus measures by the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga underpinned sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 16.71 points or 0.07 percent to 23,523.94, after falling to a low of 23,465.42 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.3 percent and Fast Retailing is gaining almost 5 percent.

Fast Retailing, the operator of the Uniqlo and GU casual clothing brands, reported a 44 percent fall in profit for the year ended August 2020, but projected a record net profit for the current fiscal year.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is losing more than 2 percent, while Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are edging down 0.1 percent each. Panasonic is adding 0.7 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is adding 0.6 percent, while Tokyo Electron is lower by 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.3 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is adding 0.4 percent, while Toyota is lower by 0.5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Tokyo Electric Power and Fujifilm Holdings are advancing more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Chugai Pharmaceutical is losing almost 3 percent, while Screen Holdings, Rakuten, Takeda Pharmaceutical and NTT Data are lower by more than 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 105 yen-range on Friday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant recovery attempt after moving sharply lower in early trading on Thursday, but still ended in negative territory. The initial sell-off came amid uncertainty about a new stimulus bill and as a Labor Department report showed an unexpected increase in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended October 10. However, stocks rebounded well off their lows after Mnuchin told CNBC's "Squawk Box" that he and President Donald Trump are committed to getting a stimulus deal done.

While the Dow plunged by more than 330 points in early trading, the blue chip index ended the day down just 19.80 points or 0.1 percent to 28,494.20. The Nasdaq fell 54.86 points or 0.5 percent to 11,713.87 and the S&P 500 dipped 5.33 points or 0.2 percent to 3,483.34.

The major European markets also showed significant moves to the downside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index plummeted by 2.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index plunged by 2.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1.7 percent.

Crude oil prices rebounded after early weakness to pare most of their losses on Thursday, after data showed a larger than expected drop in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended October 9. WTI crude for November delivery still ended down $0.08 or nearly 0.2 percent at $40.96 a barrel.

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