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Asian Markets Mixed; Nikkei Rises


Asian stock markets are mixed on Monday following the lackluster cues from Wall Street Friday and as investors digested mixed regional economic data, including data showing a slowdown in China's manufacturing sector in September.

Investors also digested media reports that the U.S. and Canada have reached an agreement on a framework North American Free Trade Agreement deal. The markets in China are closed for holidays the entire week, while Hong Kong is also closed on Monday.

The Australian market is declining following the lackluster cues from Wall Street Friday and data showing a slowdown in China's manufacturing sector in September.
Mining stocks are weak despite higher commodity prices, while banks are among the major losers amid calls to extend the banking royal commission.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 35.80 points or 0.58 percent to 6,171.80, off a low of 6,165.00. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 35.60 points or 0.56 percent to 6,289.90. Australian shares closed higher on Friday.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are losing in a range of 0.8 percent to 1.4 percent.

Nationals Senator John Williams has lent his support to Labor's calls for the Hayne Royal Commission to be extended.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is down 0.2 percent, BHP Billiton is declining 0.3 percent and Rio Tinto is losing almost 1 percent despite rallies in copper and iron ore prices.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is lower by 0.4 percent, while Newcrest Mining is adding 0.3 percent despite higher gold prices.

Oil stocks are mostly higher after crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent overnight. Oil Search is losing 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.3 percent and Santos is up 0.6 percent.

In the healthcare sector, CSL is advancing almost 1 percent and Cochlear is adding 0.7 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in September, and at a faster rate, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 59.0. That's up from 56.7 in August, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Australia will also see September figures for the inflation forecast for TD Securities today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7224, compared to $0.7218 on Friday.

The Japanese market is rising despite the lackluster cues from Wall Street Friday, with a weaker yen boosting exporters' shares. Investors are also digesting mixed local economic data.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is gaining 134.95 points or 0.56 percent to 24,254.99, after touching a high of 24,268.95 earlier. Japanese shares closed notably higher on Friday.

The major exporters are mostly higher as the U.S. dollar rose to an eleven-month high against the yen. Panasonic is advancing almost 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.6 percent and Canon is rising 0.5 percent, while Sony is declining almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 0.2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.2 percent.

Among the major auto makers, Honda and Toyota are down 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. Honda said Friday it will recall 1.4 million U.S. cars to replace Takata front passenger air bag inflators.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is rising more than 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is higher by almost 1 percent after crude oil prices rose on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Screen Holdings is rising more than 5 percent, while JTEKT Corp. and Sumco Corp. are gaining more than 4 percent each. Yaskawa Electric is higher by 4 percent.

On the flip side, Subaru, Marui Group, Takeda Pharmaceutical and Sumitomo Electric Industries are all losing more than 2 percent each.

Subaru on Sunday revealed fresh cases of improper final vehicle inspections in a final report on data falsifications.

In economic news, an index monitoring business sentiment in Japan ebbed in the third quarter of 2018, the Bank of Japan said in its quarterly Tankan business survey.
The large manufacturers' index came in with a score of +19, missing expectations for +22 and down from +21 in the previous quarter. The outlook came in at +19, also shy of expectations for +20 and down from +21 in the three months prior.

The latest survey from Nikkei revealed that the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand at a steady pace in September, with a manufacturing PMI score of 52.5. That's unchanged from the previous month, and it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia are also higher, while New Zealand, South Korea and Indonesia are modestly lower. The markets in China and Hong Kong are closed on Monday for the National Day holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed roughly flat in choppy trading on Friday amid uncertainty about trade as the U.S. and Canada approached a September 30 deadline to reach an agreement for Canada to join a trade deal struck between the U.S. and Mexico. Traders also kept an eye on developments overseas after the new Italian government offered a budget with a deficit target three times larger than the previous administration's goal.

While the S&P 500 edged down by just 0.02 points to 2,913.98, the Dow inched up 18.38 points or 0.1 percent to 26,458.31 and the Nasdaq crept up 4.38 points or 0.1 percent to 8,046.35.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Friday. The German DAX Index tumbled by 1.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 0.9 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Friday amid tightening global supply. WTI crude for November delivery rose $1.13 or 1.6 percent to settle at $73.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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