Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Thursday as the continued surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe, new lockdown measures in Germany and France, and lingering uncertainty about U.S. fiscal stimulus added to worries about the global economic recovery.
The Australian market is notably lower following the sell-off on Wall Street. Weak earnings results from ANZ Banking and the overnight fall in commodity prices also weighed on the market.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 94.70 points or 1.56 percent to 5,963.00, after touching a low of 5,947.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 97.10 points or 1.55 percent to 6,164.70. Australian stocks closed marginally higher on Wednesday.
Among the major miners, BHP Group is declining almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is lower by more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is down almost 1 percent.
Fortescue Metals reported a 5 percent increase in first-quarter iron ore shipments and said it is well positioned to meet its full-year iron ore shipment outlook.
Gold miners are falling after safe-haven gold prices declined overnight. Evolution Mining is tumbling almost 5 percent and Newcrest Mining is losing almost 4 percent.
In the banking space, Westpac is declining more than 1 percent, National Australia Bank is lower by almost 1 percent, and Commonwealth Bank is edging down 0.1 percent.
ANZ Banking is losing more than 2 percent after reporting a 42 percent fall in full-year cash profit and declaring a lower final dividend.
Oil stocks are weak as crude oil prices plunged more than 5 percent overnight. Santos and Oil Search are lower by more than 3 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is declining more than 1 percent.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics that import prices in Australia were down 3.5 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2020, after slipping 1.9 percent in the previous three months. Export prices fell 5.1 percent on quarter, after slipping 2.4 percent in the second quarter.
The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session following the sell-off on Wall Street.
Investors also turned cautious ahead of the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy decision due later today. The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.1 percent, although it may introduce other forms of stimulus.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 174.46 points or 0.74 percent to 23,244.05, after touching a low of 23,170.76 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed lower on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is declining almost 1 percent and Fast Retailing is losing more than 1 percent.
The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is gaining almost 7 percent after reporting a surge in second-quarter profit and raising its financial outlook for the full year.
Meanwhile, Canon is adding almost 1 percent, while Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are down 0.2 percent each.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 0.3 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is higher by 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are declining more than 1 percent each.
In the tech space, Advantest is lower by almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 0.2 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is gaining more than 8 percent, Nippon Electric Glass is rising almost 7 percent and Komatsu is higher by almost 4 percent.
Conversely, Tokuyama Corp. is tumbling almost 8 percent, Cyberagent is losing more than 4 percent and Nisshin Seifun Group is lower by almost 4 percent. J Front Retailing is declining more than 3 percent.
On the economic front, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that the value of retail sales in Japan was down 8.7 percent on year in September, coming in at 12.101 trillion yen. That missed forecasts for a decline of 7.7 percent following the 1.9 percent drop in August.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 104 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all losing more than 1 percent each, while Shanghai, Singapore and New Zealand are also lower. The markets in Malaysia and Indonesia are closed in observance of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.
On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Wednesday amid continued concerns about a recent spike in coronavirus cases across the U.S and lingering uncertainty about a new stimulus bill. The U.S. has averaged more than 70,000 new coronavirus cases a day over the past week, with 29 states setting new records this month for the most new daily cases since the pandemic began in February. The jump in new infections has also been accompanied by an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, leading to worries about new lockdowns.
The Dow tumbled 943.24 points or 3.4 percent to 26,519.95, the Nasdaq plunged 426.48 points or 3.7 percent to 11,004.87 and the S&P 500 plummeted 119.65 points or 3.5 percent to 3,271.03.
The major European markets also moved sharply lower on Wednesday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index tumbled 2.6 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index plunged 3.4 percent and the German DAX Index plummeted 4.2 percent.
Crude oil futures ended sharply lower on Wednesday, weighed down by data showing a notable increase in crude inventories, and worries about energy demand due to rising coronavirus cases. WTI crude oil for December delivery plunged $2.18 or about 5.5 percent to $37.39 a barrel.
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