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Asian Markets Display Mixed Trend Amid Virus Concerns

asiaupdown march19 30jun21 lt

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Thursday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street as the surge in infections due to the delta variant of the coronavirus, and curbs on travel in several countries raised some uncertainty about the pace of global economic rebound and rendered the mood cautious. Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday.

It is also feared that more countries will likely impose stricter restrictions on movements if the spread of the virus does not show signs of slowing down sometime soon. Investors seemed wary of creating fresh positions, despite recent reassurances from the Federal Reserve that they will continue with their accommodative monetary policies.

The Australian stock market is providing a subdued start to the new financial year on Thursday, giving up some of the gains of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying just below the 7,300 level, as investors continue to be spooked amid several outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant continuing to balloon. The cues overnight from Wall Street were mixed.

Another 24 locally acquired cases have been reported in New South Wales, with only about half of them in isolation. Lockdowns are imposed in Sydney, Darwin, Perth and Brisbane over the weekend following several outbreaks. Five of Australia's eight states and territories have been hit by outbreaks, with around 80 percent of the population under some form of restrictions.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 27.60 points or 0.38 percent to 7,285.40, after hitting a low of 7,278.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 12.20 points or 0.16 percent to 7,572.80. Australian markets ended slightly higher on Wednesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are losing almost 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.1 percent. OZ Minerals and Mineral Resources are down more than 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are higher. Oil Search is gaining almost 1 percent and Beach Energy is adding more than 2 percent, while Origin Energy, Santos and Woodside Petroleum are edging up 0.3 percent each.

Among Tech stocks, Appen is gaining more than 2 percent, while Xero is flat. WiseTech Global and Afterpay are edging down 0.5 percent each.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is losing almost 1 percent, while Westpac is flat. National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are edging down 0.3 percent each.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices climbed overnight. Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Resolute Mining and Newcrest Mining are adding more than 1 percent each. Gold Road Resources is rising almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in June, the latest survey from IHS Markit Economics revealed on Thursday, with a manufacturing PMI score of 58.6. That's down from a survey record of 60.4 in May and it stays above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Separately, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in June, and at a faster pace, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 63.2. That's up from 61.8 in May and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. This was the highest monthly result for the Australian PMI since March 2018 and a fifth consecutive month of rise survey record.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.749 on Thursday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly lower on Thursday, extending the losses of the previous three sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 above the 28,600 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Traders remain cautious amid the signs of a resurgeing spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 and the news of another impending State of Emergency in Tokyo and other major areas.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,640.22, down 151.31 points or 0.53 percent, after hitting a low of 28,631.87 earlier. Japanese shares ended slightly lower on Wednesday.

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

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 2 percent, Screen Holdings is declining almost 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.2 percent, while Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are flat.

The major exporters are weak. Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 5 percent, while Panasonic and Canon are losing almost 1 percent each. Sony is flat.

Among the other major losers, Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 5 percent, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is down more than 4 percent and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is declining almost 4 percent, while Nippon Yusen K.K. and DeNA are down more than 3 percent each. Trend Micro is losing almost 3 percent, while Konami Holdings, Seven & I Holdings and Nexon are down more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Sumitomo Heavy Industries is gaining almost 4 percent, while MS&AD Insurance Group, Shinsei Bank, Komatsu, Minebea Mitsumi and Sompo Holdings are adding almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to improve in June, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Thursday, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.4. That's up from a preliminary estimate of 51.5 and a 53.0 in May and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 111 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia are all higher by between 0.1 and 0.7 percent each. South Korea and China are lower 0.3 and 0.4 percent, respectively. Singapore and New Zealand are flat. Hong Kong is closed on account of SAR Establishment Day.

On Wall Street, stocks closed broadly higher on Wednesday as optimism about strong economic recovery outweighed concerns about inflation and possibility of interest rate hikes happening next year. Among the major averages, the Dow came back fairly strongly after suffering a setback in the previous session, the S&P 500 hit another record high, and the Nasdaq edged down marginally.

The major averages finished the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Dow ended up by 210.22 points or 0.61 percent at 34,502.51 and the S&P 500 settled at 4,297.50, gaining 5.70 points or 0.12 percent, while the Nasdaq closed lower by 24.38 points or 0.17 percent at 14,503.95.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all closed weak on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 ended 0.71 percent lower, Germany's DAX declined 1.02 percent and France's CAC 40 shed 0.91 percent.

Crude oil futures settled notably higher on Wednesday, lifted by data showing another weekly drop in U.S. crude inventories. Traders also looked ahead to the upcoming OPEC+ meeting on Thursday. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August ended up by $0.49 or about 0.7% at $73.47 a barrel.

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