Asian Markets Show Mixed Trend

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Friday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, with traders remaining cautiously optimistic about the pace of the global economic recovery from the pandemic on a strong boost in vaccinations in the region after a slow start. Traders are also weighing risks from China’s clampdown on businesses and the prospect of scale down in US Federal Reserve stimulus. Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday.

Meanwhile, traders remain concerned about the impact of the rapid spread of the delta variant of coronavirus in the region and in several countries, particularly in the U.S., which continues to stifle economic activity.

The Australian stock market is notably lower on Friday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just above the 7,400 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, dragged by materials, gold miners, energy and financial stocks. Traders also are concerned as the country struggles to contain the domestic coronavirus situation, primarily in New South Wales and Victoria.

NSW has reported 1,284 new local cases of COVID-19 and twelve deaths on Thursday. Victoria recorded 510 new locally acquired cases and one death, with active cases now totalling 4,697 across the state.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 46.40 points or 0.62 percent to 7,413.80, after hitting a low of 7,382.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 48.90 points or 0.63 percent to 7,710.90. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is losing almost 3 percent, Mineral Resources is declining more than 6 percent, OZ Minerals is lower by almost 4 percent, Fortescue Metals is plunging more than 8 percent and Rio Tinto is down more than 3 percent.

Oil stocks are lower. Oil Search is declining 1.5 percent, Beach energy is losing more than 1 percent, Woodside Petroleum is edging down 0.2 percent, Origin Energy is down almost 1 percent and Santos is lower by more than 2 percent.

Among tech stocks, Xero is gaining almost 1 percent, Appen is adding almost 2 percent, WiseTech Global is up more than 3 percent and Afterpay is rising almost 3 percent.

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

Gold miners are lower after gold prices tumbled overnight. Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are losing almost 4 percent each, while Gold Road Resources and Northern Star Resources are declining almost 5 percent each. Resolute Mining is down more than 3 percent.

In other news, shares in Iress tumbled more than 11 percent after the software maker revealed that suitor EQT has walked away from the table.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.729 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading modestly higher on Friday, recouping some of the losses in the previous three sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 just below the 30,500 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders remain optimistic that a new political leadership will implement new economic measures to alleviate the prolonged impact of the pandemic.

BoJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda also reportedly said that the Japanese economy is set to recover as the impact of COVID-19 wanes and that consumer inflation will be well below 2 percent in 2023.

Even as the nation continues its struggle to contain the domestic coronavirus infection rates, a Japan panel claims that new cases may increase after the upcoming holidays and the start of new school term. The COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and 18 other prefectures was extended recently until the end of the month.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 30,485.11, up 161.77 points or 0.53 percent, after touching a high of 30,506.58 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing are flat. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 1 percent and Toyota is edging up 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining more than 2 percent, Screen Holdings is edging up 0.5 percent and Tokyo Electron is up more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is gaining almost 1 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.4 percent and Mizuho Financial is flat.

Among major exporters, Panasonic is losing almost 1 percent, while Canon is edging up 0.2 percent. Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are flat.

Among the other major gainers, M3 is gaining almost 5 percent, while Nippon Yusen K.K. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha are adding almost 4 percent each. T&D Holdings, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Daiichi Sankyo are up almost 3 percent each, while CyberAgent is higher by more than 2 percent.

Conversely, Nippon Steel and Toho Zinc are losing almost 7 percent each, while Kobe Steel and JFE Holdings are down more than 3 percent each. Pacific Metals is lower by almost 3 percent, while Dowa Holdings and Toto are declining more than 2 percent each.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher by between 0.2 and 0.5 percent each. China and Malaysia are up 0.3 percent each, while Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore are relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Thursday before ending the day little changed. The major averages recovered from an early move to the downside but eventually finished the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line.

After tumbling by nearly 275 points in morning trading, the Dow closed down just 63.07 points or 0.2 percent at 34,751.32. The S&P 500 also dipped 6.95 points or 0.2 percent to 4,473.75, while the Nasdaq inched up 20.40 points or 0.1 percent to 15,181.92.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.6 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index both edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled flat on Thursday, giving up early gains on concerns over China’s decision to release some crude oil from its strategic petroleum reserve. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for October settled at $72.61 a barrel, unchanged from the previous close.

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