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Asian Markets Mostly Lower Ahead Of OPEC Meeting

asianmarkets 112014 21jun18

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Friday following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street amid worries about the impact of trade disputes on global economic growth.

Investors are also cautious ahead of the meeting between OPEC and non-OPEC producers that will take place in Vienna later today. Saudi Arabia and Russia are pushing for an increase in oil production, and OPEC is expected to announce its decision at the conclusion of the gathering. Crude oil prices rose in Asian trades.

The Australian market is edging higher despite the weak cues from Wall Street and lower commodity prices. Gains by banks were offset by weakness in oil and telecom stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 5.10 points or 0.08 percent to 6,237.20, off a high of 6,239.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 3.00 points or 0.05 percent to 6,335.90. On Thursday, Australian shares extended gains from the previous session to reach a fresh 10-year high.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent.

ANZ Banking is rising more than 2 percent after the bank doubled the size of its share buyback program to A$3 billion.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is rising more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding almost 1 percent despite gold prices declining to their lowest in 2018.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is down 0.3 percent and Rio Tinto is edging lower by 0.1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices declined overnight ahead of an upcoming OPEC meeting. Santos is losing almost 1 percent, Oil Search is declining 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.1 percent.

In the telecom sector, Telstra is down almost 2 percent, extending losses from the previous sessions after the announcement of its plan to cut 8,000 jobs. Vocus Group is lower by 1 percent and TPG Telecom is edging down less than 1 percent.

APN Outdoor Group said it has raised its takeover bid for rival Here, There & Everywhere's Ashdel advertising unit to A$540 million from an initial A$500 million. However, the outdoor advertising company's shares are declining almost 2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar regained some ground against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7388, up from US$0.7349 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is declining, tracking a stronger yen and the weak cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 175.32 points or 0.77 percent to 22,517.72, off a low of 22,414.18 in early trades. Japanese shares ended a choppy session higher on Thursday.

Among the major exporters, Canon is adding 0.4 percent, while Panasonic is declining more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.4 percent and Sony is down 0.2 percent.

Automaker Toyota is losing almost 3 percent and Honda is declining more than 2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down more than 2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is declining more than 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is adding 0.3 percent after crude oil prices edged lower overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Casio Computer and Showa Denko are gaining almost 3 percent each, while Nippon Light Metal and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma are advancing more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Sumco Corp. is losing almost 4 percent, while Fujikura and Concordia Financial are declining more than 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that overall nationwide consumer prices in Japan were up 0.7 percent on year in May. That exceeded estimates for an increase of 0.6 percent, which would have been unchanged from the April reading.

Japan will also release April numbers for its all industry activity index, May figures for department store sales, and preliminary June results for the manufacturing PMI from Nikkei today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 110 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also lower, while South Korea is edging higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday, partly due to lingering concerns about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China along with uncertainty about the outcome of this week's OPEC meeting. Notable declines by some online retailers also weighed on the Nasdaq after the Supreme Court ruled states can force online shoppers to pay sales tax.

The Dow fell 196.10 points or 0.8 percent to 24,461.70, the Nasdaq slid 68.56 points or 0.9 percent to 7,712.95 and the S&P 500 dropped 17.56 points or 0.6 percent to 2,749.76.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. The German DAX Index plunged by 1.4 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dropped by 0.9 percent.

Crude oil futures were steady Thursday as focus shifted to the upcoming OPEC meeting in Vienna. August WTI oil declined $0.17 or 0.3 percent to settle at $65.54 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In Asian trades, crude oil advanced $0.87 or 1.33 percent to $66.41.

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