Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Monday, following the broadly positive cues from global markets on Friday, and as traders remain cautious ahead of a busy week, when the US Fed, Bank of England and European Central Bank are due to lift interest rates in an effort to bring inflation down from a multi-decade high. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Friday.

The Fed is widely expected to slow the pace of interest rate hikes to 25 basis points, but traders will look to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for further rate hikes.

The Australian stock market is slightly lower on Monday after opening in the green, giving up some of the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying just below the 7,500 level, despite the broadly positive cues from global markets on Friday, with strong gains in technology stocks, more than offset by weakness in mining stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 4.80 points or 0.06 percent to 7,489.00, after hitting a low of 7,474.30 and a high of 7,505.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 1.50 points or 0.02 percent to 7,708.00. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is losing almost 2 percent, BHP Group is down almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent, while Mineral Resources is edging up 0.2 percent. OZ Minerals is flat.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Woodside Energy is edging up 0.3 percent and Origin Energy is gaining more than 1 percent, while Beach energy is losing almost 1 percent. Santos is flat.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay owner Block is surging more than 5 percent, Appen is gaining more than 3 percent, Xero is advancing almost 5 percent, WiseTech Global is rising almost 7 percent and Zip is up almost 4 percent.

Gold miners are mostly weak. Northern Star Resources is losing almost 1 percent, Newcrest Mining is down more than 1 percent and Gold Road Resources is declining more than 2 percent, while Resolute Mining is adding almost 2 percent. Evolution Mining is flat.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank and Westpac are edging down 0.3 percent each, while ANZ Banking is gaining almost 1 percent. Commonwealth Bank is flat.

In other news, shares in IAG and Suncorp are slipping more than 4 percent and almost 3 percent, respectively, as the insurance firms announced they would be hit by significant losses due to the significant claims related to the floods in New Zealand.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.709 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher in choppy trading on Monday, extending the slight gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 moving to just below the 27,500 level, following the broadly positive cues from global markets on Friday, as traders remain cautious amid interest rate decisions by the US Fed, Bank of England and European Central Bank later this week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,473.75, up 91.19 points or 0.33 percent, after touching a high of 27,486.42 earlier. Japanese shares ended slightly higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is flat and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 1 percent and Toyota is edging up 0.5 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is edging up 0.2 percent, while Advantest is edging down 0.1 percent and Tokyo Electron is flat. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are losing almost 1 percent each, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging down 0.2 percent.

The major exporters are mostly higher. Panasonic is losing almost 1 percent, while Canon, Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are edging down 0.2 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, Yamato Holdings is soaring more than 8 percent, Shin-Etsu Chemical is gaining almost 4 percent and Fanuc is adding more than 3 percent.

Conversely, there are no major losers.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 130 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong and South Korea are slipping 1.2 percent each, while Singapore and Indonesia are down 0.2 and 0.6 percent, respectively. Taiwan is surging 2.9 percent, while New Zealand, China and Malaysia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.4 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks saw considerable volatility over the course of the trading session on Friday but managed to close mostly higher. The tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a strong move to the upside, ending the session at its best closing level in over four months.

The major averages pulled back well off their highs going into the close. While the Nasdaq jumped 109.30 points or 1.0 percent to 11,621.71, the S&P 500 rose 10.13 points or 0.3 percent to 4,070.56 and the Dow inched up 28.67 points or 0.1 percent to 33,978.08.

The major European markets also showed modest moves to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both inch up by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices fell Friday amid uncertainty about the outlook for oil demand. Profit taking after recent gains and indications that oil supply from Russia will surge also weighed on oil prices. West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures for March sank $1.33 or 1.6 percent at $79.68 a barrel. WTI crude futures shed 2.4 percent in the week.

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