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Asian Markets Showing Mixed Trend

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Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Friday, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street and as traders continue to weigh the likely impact of the monetary policy decisions of from the Fed, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England on the economy and financial markets. Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday.

While some stocks benefited from reduced uncertainty about the outlook for monetary policy, high-growth tech stocks fell sharply amid concerns about the impact of higher interest rates.

Traders are also concerned after several countries across the world announced stricter restrictions on movements to curb the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which is now spread to more than 77 countries.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Friday, recouping some of the losses in the previous four sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 above the 7,300 level, despite the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, led by gains in the energy, financial and materials stocks amid stronger commodity prices, partially offset by weakness in technology stocks, which mirrored their peers on Nasdaq.

Sentiment was also lifted after Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe reiterated that the central bank would keep interest rates at a record low next year.

Meanwhile, traders remain concerned over the rising domestic Covid-19 cases. New South Wales reported a new record of 2,213 new cases and one death on Thursday, with a total of 185 Omicron cases. Victoria also reported 1,510 new cases and seven deaths, with more than 13 total Omicron cases and investigations on 30 exposures ongoing.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 46.90 points or 0.64 percent to 7,342.60, after touching a high of 7,350.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 42.30 points or 0.56 percent to 7,660.80. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto, OZ Minerals and Fortescue Metals are adding almost 1 percent each, while BHP Group is up 1.5 percent and Mineral Resources is gaining almost 2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos are adding more than 1 percent each, while Beach energy is gaining more than 2 percent.

Among tech stocks, Appen is gaining almost 1 percent, while Xero is losing almost 5 percent, Afterpay is plunging more than 7 percent, Zip is slipping almost 7 percent and WiseTech Global is declining almost 4 percent.

Shares in Afterpay and Zip are plunging being probed by US regulators over their consumer protections policies, along with Paypal and several other companies.

Among the big four banks, Westpac is edging up 0.5 percent and Commonwealth Bank is gaining more than 2 percent, while ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are adding almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are higher as gold prices climbed overnight. Resolute Mining and Newcrest Mining are gaining more than 4 percent each, while Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources are surging almost 5 percent each. Gold Road Resources is adding more than 3 percent.

Shares in Dusk are soaring almost 9 percent after the candle retailer announced a $28 million acquisition of Eroma Group, an Australian candle supplier.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.718 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading significantly lower on Friday, giving up some of the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 just a tad below the 28,800 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders continue to weigh the likely impact of the monetary policy decisions from the Fed, the European Central Bank and the Bank of England on the economy and financial markets.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,799.60, down 266.72 points or 0.92 percent, after hitting a low of 28,766.69 earlier. Japanese shares closed sharply higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing 1.5 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging up 0.3 percent and Toyota is losing almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing more than 1 percent, Tokyo Electron is declining almost 2 percent and Screen Holdings is down almost percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is adding almost 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging down 0.3 percent.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric is losing almost 1 percent and Sony is down more than 1 percent, while Canon is gaining almost 1 percent. Panasonic is flat.

Among the other major losers, Chugai Pharmaceutical is losing almost 4 percent, while Konami Holdings, Fujitsu and CyberAgent are down almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Ricoh, Pacific Metals and Toho are gaining almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan will wrap up its monetary policy meeting on Friday and then announce its decision on interest rates. The BoJ is expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.10 percent, although there may be adjustments to other forms of stimulus.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 113 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Singapore and Hong Kong are lower by between 0.2 and 0.7 percent each, while South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks moved back to the downside during trading on Thursday following the late-day rally seen in the previous session. Technology stocks led the way lower, resulting in a particularly steep drop by the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

The Nasdaq plunged 385.15 points or 2.5 percent to 15,180.44 and the S&P 500 slumped 41.18 points or 0.9 percent to 4,668.67. Meanwhile, the Dow spent the afternoon bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line before closing down 29.79 points or 0.1 percent to 35,897.64.

Meanwhile, the major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index surged by 1.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1.1 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher Thursday, aided by data showing increased demand for energy in the U.S. and a larger than expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for January ended higher by $1.51 or 2.1 percent at $72.38 a barrel.

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