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Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trade

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Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Monday, ignoring the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, as data showing a significant drop in U.S. consumer sentiment, China's regulatory curbs, sinking crude oil prices and concerns about the impact of surging cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the region is weighing on investor sentiment and rendering the mood cautious. Asian markets closed mixed on Friday.

The surge in the delta variant of the coronavirus and fresh restrictions in several places across the world has also raised uncertainty about the pace of the economic rebound from the pandemic.

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Monday, snapping the winning streak of eight sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,600 level near all-time highs, ignoring the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, as traders remain concerned amid the rapid spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants in New South Wales.

NSW reported 478 new cases on Sunday, the highest number ever recorded in the state for a day, with eight deaths. Victoria also recorded 22 new locally acquired cases, with the total active cases of COVID-19 across Victoria standing at 205.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 32.90 points or 0.43 percent to 7,596.60, after hitting a low of 7,590.60. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 32.70 points or 0.41 percent to 7,865.00. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is gaining more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.2 percent, while OZ Minerals is lower by 1.6 percent. Rio Tinto and Mineral Resources are edging down 0.3 percent each.

BHP confirmed today it is in advanced talks to merge its $20 billion petroleum business with Woodside Petroleum.

Oil stocks are lower, with Origin Energy losing almost 2 percent and Oil Search is declining almost 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are down more than 1 percent. Beach energy is plunging almost 8 percent after the company's annual profit fell by more than a fifth.

Among tech stocks, Appen and Afterpay are losing almost 1 percent each, while Xero is edging up 0.3 percent and WiseTech Global is edging down 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are higher. Evolution Mining is gaining almost 1 percent, while Northern Star Resources and Resolute Mining are up more than 1 percent each. Newcrest Mining is adding more than 2 percent, while Gold Road Resources is edging down 0.2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are losing more than 1 percent each, while National Australia Bank ia down almost 1 percent and ANZ Banking is declining more than 2 percent.

Shares in Bendigo and Adelaide Bank are plunging more than 9 percent after reporting its annual results, saying it would buy fintech firm Ferocia for up to A$116 million.

In other news, global property giant Lendlease has swung to a full-year profit of $222 million, bouncing back from a $310 million loss a year ago. However, the stock is down more than 5 percent.

Sydney Airport Holdings Pty Ltd rejected a sweetened offer a group of infrastructure investors worth A$22.80 billion or $16.81 billion, saying it undervalued the airport operator. However, it is still open to a higher offer. The stock is flat.

Kerry Stokes-controlled Seven West Media swung to a net profit of $318 million after a better-than-expected advertising market allowed it to reverse impairments on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and its television licence. However, the stock is declining almost 8 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.734 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is sharply lower on Monday, extending the losses of the previous two sessions, with the Nikkei 225 losing more than 500 points to be below the 27,500 level, ignoring the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, as traders remain concerned as the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variants continues to stifle economic activity due to the resultant state of emergencies, with 17,832 new cases on Sunday, the 13th straight day above 10,000.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at the day's low of 27,441.12, down 536.03 points or 1.92 percent.. Japanese shares ended slightly lower on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down 1.6 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are losing more than 1 percent each.

The major exporters are lower, with Panasonic and Sony losing more than 2 percent each, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining 1.5 percent and Canon is down more than 1 percent.

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

Among the other major losers, Nippon Express is losing almost 13 percent, while Nisshinbo Holdings, Hino Motors, Nisshinbo Holdings and Yaskawa Electric are down more than 4 percent each. Takara Holdings, Kikkoman, Fujikura and Rakuten Group are declining almost 4 percent each, while Recruit Holdings, Sumitomo Realty & Development, Omron, Kubota, Fanuc, Dentsu Group and Minebea Mitsumi are lower by more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, FUJIFILM Holdings is gaining more than 8 percent, Citizen Watch is adding almost 6 percent and Ebara is up more than 3 percent, while Daiichi Sankyo and Nippon Yusen K.K. are rising almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, Japan's gross domestic product expanded an annualized 1.3 percent on year in the second quarter of 2021, the Cabinet Office said in Monday's preliminary report. That beat forecasts for an increase of 0.7 percent following the 3.9 percent contraction in the first quarter. On a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, gross domestic product rose 0.3 percent - again exceeding expectations for 0.2 percent following the 1.0 percent drop in the three months prior.

Capital expenditure gained 1.7 percent on quarter, matching expectations after sinking 1.2 percent in the previous three months. External demand was down 0.3 percent on quarter versus forecasts for a fall of 0.1 percent after slipping 0.2 percent in Q1. Private consumption climbed 0.8 percent on quarter, beating forecasts for a loss of 0.1 percent after sinking 1.5 percent in the previous three months.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 109 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is losing 1.2 percent, while Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are lower by between 0.5 and 0.9 percent each. New Zealand and China are higher by 0.2 and 0.4 percent, respectively. South Korea is closed for Liberation Day Holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks ended roughly flat on Friday despite the Dow and the S&P 500 both climbing to fresh record highs early on in the session. Data showing a significant drop in U.S. consumer sentiment, and concerns about the impact of surging cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus on growth outweighed buoyant earnings updates from some top notch companies.

The Dow, which rose to 35,610.57 in early trades, ended the session at 35,515.38, gaining 15.53 points or 0.04 percent. The S&P 500 ended up by 7.17 points or 0.16 percent at 4,468.00, while the Nasdaq settled with a gain of 6.64 points or 0.04 percent at 14,822.90.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 climbed 0.35 percent, Germany's DAX advanced 0.25 percent and France's CAC 40 gained 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled lower Friday as traders weighed the outlook for energy demand amid spikes in the delta variant coronavirus in several countries. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for September ended down $0.65 or 0.9 percent at $68.44 a barrel.

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