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Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

asiancommentary dec03 11jan21 lt

Asian stock markets are mixed on Tuesday following the negative cues from Wall Street amid worries about the rising coronavirus cases across the world. Investors also turned cautious after House Democrats introduced an article of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Australian market is rising despite the negative cues from Wall Street. Gains by banks and oil stocks helped offset weakness in the mining sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 20.00 points or 0.30 percent to 6,717.20, after touching a high of 6722.50. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 16.70 points or 0.24 percent to 6,976.20. Australian shares closed lower on Monday.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.9 percent to 1.5 percent.

Among oil stocks, Santos and Oil Search are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.3 percent, even as crude oil prices settled almost flat on Monday.

Meanwhile, the major miners are lower. Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP Group are down almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are extending losses even as gold prices rebounded overnight. Evolution Mining is lower by more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining down 0.5 percent.

The Japanese market, which resumed trading after a holiday in the previous session, is edging higher after a weak start following the negative cues from Wall Street.

Investors turned cautious after a new coronavirus variant was detected in four people who arrived in Japan from Brazil and as reports indicated the Japanese government plans to expand a state of emergency to the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 17.37 points or 0.06 percent to 28,156.40, after touching a low of 27,899.45 in early trades. The Japanese market was closed on Monday for a holiday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is down 0.7 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding 0.3 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is advancing more than 1 percent, while Advantest are is declining more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Canon is declining 1 percent, while Sony is lower by 0.6 percent and Panasonic is down 0.2 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among automakers, Honda is lower by 0.6 percent and Toyota is down 0.3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.7 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Chugai Pharmaceutical is climbing almost 10 percent after tocilizumab, an arthritis drug developed by the company and Osaka University, was found by the British government to be effective in treating patients with COVID-19.

Tokyo Electric and Fuji Electric are rising more than 5 percent each, while Takeda Pharmaceutical is higher by more than 4 percent.

Conversely, Oji Holdings is losing almost 4 percent, while Dai Nippon Printing and Japan Steel Works are declining almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Finance said Japan posted a current account surplus of 1,878.4 billion yen in November on Tuesday. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of 1,551 billion yen and was down from 2,144.7 billion yen in October.

Exports were down 3.4 percent on year to 6.039 trillion yen, while imports sank an annual 13.6 percent to 5.423 trillion yen. The trade balance showed a surplus of 616.1 billion yen.

The Bank of Japan said the value of overall bank lending in Japan was up 6.2 percent on year in December, coming in at 577.639 trillion yen. That was unchanged from the November reading following a downward revision from 6.3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 104 yen-range on Tuesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Monday as investors stayed largely cautious, assessing valuations and taking some profits. Rising coronavirus cases across the world and concerns about developments in Washington also weighed on stocks.

The Dow, which plunged nearly 270 points in early trades, ended down 89.28 points or 0.29 percent at 31,008.69. The S&P 500 slid 25.07 points or 0.66 percent to 3,799.61, while the Nasdaq settled at 13,036.43, losing 165.54 points or 1.25 percent.

The major European markets also ended notably lower on Monday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended down 1.09 percent, Germany's DAX lost 0.8 percent and France's CAC 40 shed 0.78 percent.

Crude oil futures settled flat on Monday as rising coronavirus cases and tighter lockdown measures in several countries across the world raised concerns about outlook for energy demand. WTI crude for February settled at $52.25 a barrel, up $0.01 from the previous close.

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