Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trades

Market trading boards are seen at the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney, Friday, February 9, 2018. ( AAP Image/Ben Rushton) NO ARCHIVING

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Thursday after strong gains in the previous sessions and following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street as the release of some upbeat economic data raised concerns of additional U.S. stimulus. Investors also turned cautious as they digested local corporate earnings results.

The Australian market is declining after three days of gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 32.50 points or 0.48 percent to 6,792.10 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 26.90 points or 0.38 percent to 7,064.00.

The major miners are weak. Rio Tinto is lower by almost 1 percent, while BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are down 0.2 percent each.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged higher overnight. Evolution Mining is declining almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is down almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is edging down 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices advanced overnight. Oil Search is rising 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.1 percent, while Santos is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the tech sector, WiseTech Global is advancing more than 2 percent and Afterpay is adding 0.4 percent, while Appen is losing almost 2 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Australia had a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade surplus of A$6.785 billion in December. That exceeded expectations for a A$6.0 billion surplus following the downwardly revised A$5.014 billion surplus in November.

Exports were up 3.0 percent on month to A$37.268 billion, in line with forecasts following the downwardly revised 2.8 percent increase in the previous month. Imports slipped 2.0 percent on month to A$30.483 billion versus expectations for a loss of 4.0 percent following the downwardly revised 9.3 percent increase a month earlier.

The Japanese market is also losing after three straight days of gains and as investors turned cautious as they digested local corporate earnings results.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 163.84 points or 0.57 percent to 28,482.66, after touching a low of 28,446.64 earlier.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.1 percent, while Fast Retailing is up 0.1 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is losing more than 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is lower by more than 2 percent.

The major exporters are mostly higher despite a slightly stronger yen. Sony is gaining more than 8 percent after reporting a 62 percent surge in its profit for the third quarter and also raising its full-year outlook.

Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 1 percent each and Canon is rising more than 2 percent, while Panasonic is down 0.1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is advancing more than 1 percent, while Toyota is lower by 0.5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Tokyo Electric Power is rising almost 7 percent. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is higher by almost 6 percent after signing a deal with Ship Data Center to share operation data of the K Line fleet installed with Kawasaki Integrated Maritime Solutions.

Nippon Yusen is advancing more than 5 percent after reporting an increase in its profit for the third quarter and rising its financial outlook for the full year.

Conversely, Z Holdings and Kao Corp. are losing more than 5 percent each, while Sumco Corp. is lower by more than 4 percent and Taiyo Yuden is declining almost 4 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 105 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand and Taiwan are also lower, while Indonesia is advancing 1 percent. Hong Kong and Malaysia are little changed.

On Wall Street, stocks closed little changed in a lackluster session on Wednesday after moving sharply higher in the two previous sessions. A notable decline by shares of Amgen weighed on the Dow after the biotechnology company reported fourth-quarter results that beat estimates, but provided disappointing guidance. In addition, the release of some upbeat economic data raised concerns lawmakers will feel less pressure to provide additional stimulus.

While the Nasdaq edged down 2.23 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 13,610.54, the Dow inched up 36.12 points or 0.1 percent to 30,723.60 and the S&P 500 crept up 3.86 points or 0.1 percent to 3,830.17.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index ended the day nearly unchanged and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices rose to a more than one year high on Wednesday, lifted by the decision of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies to cut crude production for two months. WTI crude for March delivery jumped $0.93 or about 1.7 percent to $55.69 a barrel.

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