Asian Markets Mostly Lower

asiancommentary1 oct01 13jan22 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Friday, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, with energy and technology stocks primarily dragging the markets to the downside. Traders remain worried and cautious amid the rapid spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant in most countries and the likely economic impact of the related curbs. Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday.

The Australian stock market is sharply lower on Friday, giving up some of the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just above the 7,400 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, with weakness across most sectors, particularly technology stocks.

Traders remain concerned over the rising domestic Covid-19 cases. New South Wales reported 63,018 new cases and 29 deaths on Thursday and Victoria also reported 34,836 new cases and 18 deaths. Queensland recorded 23,630 new cases and three deaths, ACT reported 1,125 new cases and Tasmania reported 1,201 new cases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 71.20 points or 0.95 percent to 7,403.20, after hitting a low of 7,386.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 70.30 points or 0.90 percent to 7,727.20. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto and Mineral Resources are losing more than 1 percent each, while BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are edging down 0.4 percent each. OZ Minerals is down almost 2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Petroleum and Beach energy are losing almost 1 percent each, while Santos is declining almost 2 percent. Origin Energy is flat.

Among tech stocks, Appen is losing almost 3 percent, Afterpay is plunging 7.5 percent, WiseTech Global is declining more than 2 percent, Zip is slipping almost 4 percent and Xero is sliding more than 3 percent.

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

Gold miners are mixed. Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent and Gold Road Resources is declining almost 2 percent, while Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging up 0.3 percent each. Resolute Mining is flat.

In economic news, the value of owner-occupied home loans in Australia jumped a seasonally adjusted 7.6 percent on month in November, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Friday - coming in at A$21.34 billion. That beat forecasts for a flat reading following the 4.1 percent decline in October. On a yearly basis, overall lending was up 33.2 percent, owner-occupied lending gains 17.2 percent and investment lending surged 86.9 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.727 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading sharply lower on Friday, extending the sharp losses in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying above the 27,900 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, with weakness across most sectors, particularly technology stocks.

Traders remain concerned and cautious as daily new COVID-19 cases continues to exceed the 10,000 mark spurred by the fast-spreading coronavirus omicron variant.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,945.70, down 543.43 points or 1.91 percent, after hitting a low of 27,889.21 earlier. Japanese shares closed significantly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is surging more than 7 percent after posting a record first-quarter profit. Among automakers, Honda is losing almost 2 percent and Toyota is down more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 3 percent, Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.5 percent and Screen Holdings is declining almost 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is edging down 0.6 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 1 percent.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are losing almost 1.5 percent each, while Canon is down more than 1 percent and Sony is declining almost 3 percent.

Among the other major losers, Hitachi Construction Machinery is plunging 17 percent, while Toyota Tsusho and Recruit Holdings are losing more than 6 percent each. Yokogawa Electric, M3, Taiyo Yuden and Olympus are declining more than 5 percent each, while Murata Manufacturing, Nissan Chemical and Tokyo Tatemono are slipping almost 5 percent each. Bandai Namco Holdings, Mitsui Chemicals, Fanuc, Yokohama Rubber and Mitsui Fudosan are down more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, Seven & I Holdings is gaining 4.5 percent.

In economic news, producer prices in Japan were down 0.2 percent on month in December, the Bank of Japan said on Friday. That missed expectations for an increase of 0.3 percent and was down from the upwardly revised 0.7 percent in November (originally 0.6 percent). On a yearly basis, producer prices climbed 8.5 percent - again missing forecasts for a gain of 8.8 percent and down from the upwardly revised 9.2 percent in the previous month (originally 9.0 percent). Export prices were down 0.8 percent on month and up 13.5 percent on year last month, the bank said, while import prices fell 0.4 percent on month and skyrocketed 41.9 percent on year.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, , South Korea is slipping 1.5 percent, while New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia are lower by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. Singapore is bucking the trend and is up 0.4 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant move back to the downside during trading on Thursday with tech stocks leading the way lower. The tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a particularly steep drop, ending the day at its lowest closing level in three months.

The major averages saw further downside going into the close, ending the session near their worst levels of the day. The Nasdaq plunged 381.58 points or 2.5 percent to 14,806.81, the S&P 500 tumbled 67.32 points or 1.4 percent to 4,659.03 and the Dow fell 176.70 points or 0.5 percent to 36,113.62.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the day mixed. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index crept up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices gave ground on Thursday as investors cashed in on recent gains that led to a two-month closing high. West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery slid $0.52 or 0.6 percent to $82.12 a barrel after jumping $1.42 or 1.7 percent to $82.64 a barrel in the previous session.

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