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Asian Markets Mostly Higher Amid Cautious Trades

asiaup march18 19jan23 lt

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Friday, despite the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, as traders remained cautious even as worries eased about interest rates following data showing cooling US inflation. The US Fed is widely expected to further slow the pace of rate hikes to 25 basis points at its next meeting. Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher in choppy trading on Friday, extending the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,400 level, despite the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, with gains is mining and energy stocks amid continued strength in commodity prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 4.30 points or 0.06 percent to 7,439.60, after touching a high of 7,456.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 17.70 points or 0.23 percent to 7,666.10. Australian markets ended notably higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Mineral Resources are edging up 0.3 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.2 percent. Rio Tinto and OZ Minerals are flat.

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

Among tech stocks, Afterpay owner Block is slipping almost 1 percent, Appen is losing more than 2 percent and Xero is down more than 1 percent, while WiseTech Global is adding almost 1 percent. Zip is flat.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are edging up 0.1 to 0.5 percent each, while National Australia Bank is flat.

Gold miners are mostly higher. Northern Star Resources is gaining more than 2 percent, Newcrest Mining is adding almost 3 percent, Gold Road Resources is advancing more than 3 percent, Evolution Mining is edging up 0.5 percent and Resolute Mining is surging almost 5 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.693 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is slightly higher on Friday after being in the red at open, following the sharp losses in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying above the 26,400 level, despite the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, as the expected weak domestic inflation figures was already been accounted for by the market.

The country's annual core inflation rate hit a fresh 41-year high of 4 percent in December, well above the central bank's 2 percent target for the ninth straight month.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 26,411.94, up 6.71 points or 0.03 percent, after touching a high of 26,431.13 and a low of 26,320.96 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging down 0.2 percent, while Toyota is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining almost 1 percent, while Screen Holdings is edging down 0.22 percent. Tokyo Electron is flat.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is edging up 0.3 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are flat.

Among major exporters, Canon and Panasonic are edging down 0.1 to 0.2 percent each, while Sony is declining more than 1 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Taisei is gaining more than 4 percent, while Shimizu, Kajima and AGC are adding more than 3 percent.

Conversely, there are no other major losers.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 128 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, , Malaysia and Indonesia are higher by between 0.1 and 1.0 percent each. South Korea is relatively flat. Taiwan is closed through January 30 for the Lunar New Year holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks saw further downside during trading on Thursday after ending the previous session sharply lower. The major averages fluctuated after coming under pressure in early trading but remained stuck in the red.

The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory. The Dow slid 252.40 points or 0.8 percent to 33,044.56, the Nasdaq slumped 104.74 points or 1.0 percent to 10,852.27 and the S&P 500 fell 30.01 points or 0.8 percent to 3,898.85.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped 1.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index plunged by 1.7 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher on Thursday as hopes about higher demand from China outweighed data showing a jump in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended January 13. The West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February ended higher by $0.85 or about 1.1 percent at $80.33 a barrel.

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