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Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trade

asiadown march18 03jun21 lt

Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Friday, following the negative cues overnight from Wall Street, due to sliding commodity prices on the back of a stronger US dollar and higher US yields. Meanwhile, traders keenly await the monthly U.S. jobs report which could offer cues on the economic recovery and the interest rate outlook. Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday.

Additionally, traders remain concerned that efforts to control the high coronavirus cases caused by highly contagious variants of the virus in most markets are leading to more restrictions and lockdowns is several areas in the region.

Australian stock market is slightly higher after recouping early losses on Friday, extending the gains of the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,200 level near fresh all-time highs for the second straight day, as losses in gold miners and iron ore miners due to sliding commodity prices were offset by gains in energy and financial stocks. The cues overnight from Wall Street were negative.

Traders also remain concerned after the lockdown was extended in Melbourne area in the country's second-most populous state of Victoria as a cluster of COVID-19 cases steadily grew in Victoria, which recorded four new local cases. The outbreak in Victoria has reached a count of 73 active cases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 22.80 points or 0.31 percent to 7,282.90, after touching a high of 7,283.40 and a low of 7,244.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 19.30 points or 0.26 percent to 7,530.00. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Thursday.

The major miners are lower. BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are losing almost 2 percent each, while Rio Tinto is down more than 2 percent, Mineral Resources is lower by more than 1 percent and OZ Minerals is declining more than 4 percent.

Oil stocks were higher. Oil Search is gaining almost 1 percent, Origin Energy is surging more than 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding more than 1 percent. Santos and Beach energy are edging up 0.1 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay is edging down 0.3 percent, WiseTech Global is losing almost 1 percent and Xero is down almost 2 percent. Appen is declining more than 4 percent after its CEO Mark Brayan sold $1.43 million worth of shares to satisfy tax obligations arising from the vesting of performance rights.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Westpac is adding more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are lower after gold prices plummeted overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 4 percent and Resolute Mining is down almost 5 percent, while Northern Star Resources and Gold Road Resources are declining more than 4 percent each. Newcrest Mining is down almost 2 percent.

In other news, shares in BARD1 Life Sciences are losing almost 9 percent after the cancer diagnostics firm told investors a court case brought against it by the original founders of the company had started in the Supreme Court.

Discount retail chain The Reject Shop told investors that it has been forced to lower expectations for its full year sales and profits due to the company's sales failing to recover to a pre-COVID norm. The stock is plummeting more than 11 percent.

In economic news, the total value of overall home loans in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 3.7 percent on month in April, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Friday, standing at A$31.0 billion. The value of new loan commitments for owner occupier housing reached another all-time high in April, up 4.3 percent to A$23.0 billion. New loan commitments for investors rose 2.1 percent to A$8.1 billion, which was the highest level since mid-2017.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.766 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is notably lower on Friday, snapping two straight sessions of modest gains, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 just above the 28,900 level, following the negative cues overnight from Wall Street. Concerns about the extension of the COVID-19 state of emergency in several major areas are also weighing on the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,916.89, down 141.22 points or 0.49 percent, after hitting a low of 28,764.68 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging up 0.4 percent, Toyota is adding almost 1 percent and Mazda is gaining almost 3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Screen Holdings are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Tokyo Electron is losing more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is flat, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are edging down 0.4 percent each.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are flat, while Panasonic and Canon are edging down 0.4 percent each.

Among the other major losers, M3 is losing almost 5 percent and Sumitomo Metal Mining is down more than 3 percent, while Takara Holdings, Fanuc, Yaskawa Electric, Trend Micro and Yamato Holdings are declining almost 3 percent each. Recruit Holdings, Toto, Denka, CyberAgent and Tokyu Fudosan Holdings are losing more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Oji Holdings, Citizen Watch and Keisei Electric Railway are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Dai Nippon Printing, IHI, Tosoh, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, NGK Insulators, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, Marui Group, Seiko Epson, JFE Holdings and Hitachi are all down almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, the average of household spending in Japan was up 13.0 percent on year in April, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Friday - coming in at 310,043 yen. That blew away forecasts for an increase of 9.3 percent following the 6.2 percent gain in March. On a monthly basis, household spending rose 0.1 percent - again exceeding expectations for a decline of 2.2 percent following the 7.2 percent jump in the previous month. The average of monthly income per household stood at 543,063 yen, up 2.8 percent on year.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Shanghai and Malaysia are all lower by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. New Zealand is bucking the trend and is higher by 0.4 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks staged a recovery attempt but still ended Thursday's trading mostly lower, after coming under pressure early in the session. The Dow posted a modest loss on the day, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed sharply lower.

The Dow edged down just 23.34 points or 0.1 percent to 34,577.04 after tumbling by more than 250 points in early trading. The Nasdaq slumped 141.82 points or 1 percent to 13,614.51 and the S&P 500 fell 15.27 points or 0.4 percent to 4,192.85.

The major European markets also ended the day mixed. While the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil futures settled roughly flat on Thursday after two straight days of strong gains as traders reacted to inventory data and weighed energy demand prospects. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for July ended down $0.02 at $68.81 a barrel.

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