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Asian Markets Exhibit Mixed Trend


Asian stock markets are mixed on Monday in subdued trading as several markets in the region head into the Lunar New Year holidays this week. Investors digested upbeat corporate earnings results and U.S. jobs data as well as data that showed China's services sector growth moderated in January.

The Australian market is advancing despite the mixed cues from Wall Street Friday, with banks recovering after a weak start ahead of the publication of the Kenneth Hayne royal commission recommendations later in the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 30.10 points or 0.51 percent to 5,892.90, off a high of 5,894.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 28.70 points or 0.48 percent to 5,964.00. Australian shares closed marginally lower on Friday.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.6 percent to 1.1 percent.

Oil stocks are also gaining after crude oil prices rose on Friday. Oil Search is higher by 0.6 percent, Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.7 percent and Santos is advancing almost 2 percent.

Gold miners are edging higher even as gold prices slipped from nine-month highs on Friday. Newcrest Mining is adding 0.1 percent and Evolution Mining is up 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major miners are mostly lower despite a surge in iron ore prices over the weekend. Fortescue Metals is losing more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is declining almost 1 percent, while BHP Group is adding 0.4 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of building approvals issued in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 8.4 percent on month in December, coming in at 13,995. That missed forecast for an increase of 2.0 percent following the 9.1 percent decline in November.

Australia will also release January numbers for job ads from ANZ and the inflation forecast from 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 $0.7247, up from $0.7239 on Friday.

The Japanese market is rising despite the mixed cues from Wall Street, as the surge in crude oil prices and a weaker yen boosted investor sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 97.55 points or 0.47 percent to 20,885.94, after touching a high of 20,922.58 earlier. Japanese shares closed marginally higher on Friday.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is higher by almost 2 percent and Canon is advancing almost 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.2 percent.

Shares of Sony are losing more than 7 percent after the tech giant forecast lower full-year sales due to weaker-than-expected sales in the semiconductors, mobile communications and imaging products segments. However, the company projects full-year net income to be higher than its earlier forecast.

In the tech sector, Advantest is edging down 0.1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is up more than 1 percent.

Shares of Renesas Electronics are advancing more than 1 percent even as the Nikkei business daily reported that the chipmaker will cut about 1,000 jobs by June as it pivots aboard to compensate for a shrinking domestic market.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is rising more than 1 percent and Honda is losing more than 3 percent.

Shares of Nissan are adding 0.5 percent after the automaker canceled plans to make its new X-Trail SUV in Britain, citing continued uncertainty over Britain's future relation with the European Union after it leaves the EU in March. Instead, the automaker will make the SUV solely in Japan.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are both higher by more than 1 percent each. In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is rising almost 2 percent and Inpex is advancing more than 1 percent after crude oil prices gained on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Kajima Corp. and Shimizu Corp. are rising almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan that the monetary base in Japan was up 4.7 percent on year in January, coming in at 499.779 trillion yen. That follows the 4.8 percent increase in December.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 109 yen-range on Monday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday in choppy trading as the Dow benefited from strong gains by Merck, Exxon Mobil and Chevron after the companies reporting better than expected fourth-quarter earnings, while a steep drop by Amazon weighed on the Nasdaq. Traders also digested a report from the Labor Department showing much stronger than expected job growth in the month of January but also an uptick in the unemployment rate.

While the Nasdaq fell 17.87 points or 0.3 percent to 7,263.87, the Dow rose 64.22 points or 0.3 percent to 25,063.89 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.43 points or 0.1 percent to 2,706.53.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Friday. While the German DAX Index crept up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil prices surged higher on Friday as U.S. sanctions on Venezuela's oil exports and a notable drop in OPEC's oil output eased concerns about any excess supply in the market. WTI crude for March delivery jumped $1.47 or 2.7 percent to $55.26 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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