Asian Markets Show Mixed Trend

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Friday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, with falling commodity prices, renewed worries about slowing global economic recovery and uncertainty over Federal Reserve policy moves keeping investors nervous. The alarming spread of the highly contagious coronavirus variants in the region is also hurting sentiment. Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday.

The Australian stock market is slightly lower on Friday, extending the losses of the previous four sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,500 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, even as the country struggles to contain the domestic coronavirus situation, primarily in New South Wales, hindering economic activity amid lockdowns.

NSW has reported 642 new local cases of COVID-19 and four deaths on Thursday, with the Greater Sydney lockdown extended until the end of September and most other regional areas until August 28. Victoria recorded 55 new locally acquired cases, with active cases now totalling 349 across the state.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 1.50 points or 0.02 percent to 7,463.10, after touching a high of 7,512.00 and a low of 7,456.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 9.60 points or 0.12 percent to 7,725.70. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are edging up 0.4 percent each, while OZ Minerals is declining almost 4 percent and Mineral Resources is losing more than 2 percent. Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are mixed. Oil Search is edging up 0.3 percent, Woodside Petroleum is up more than 1 percent, Origin Energy is gaining more than 2 percent and Beach energy is adding 0.5 percent, while Santos is losing 1.5 percent.

Among tech stocks, Xero and Appen are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Afterpay is flat. WiseTech Global is edging up 0.2 percent.

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

Gold miners are mixed. Newcrest Mining is losing almost 3 percent, while Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging down 0.4 percent each. Gold Road Resources is declining more than 1 percent and Resolute Mining is down almost 2 percent.

In other news, shares in Cochlear are plunging more than 7 percent even after the meditech giant reported record $1.4 billion in revenue and declared a $1.40 dividend, with the company missing consensus expectations.

Sydney Airport reported a wider loss of $97.4 million for the first half as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cripple the travel industry. Revenue also fell 33 per cent to $341 million from last year. The stock is trading flat.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.713 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading significantly lower on Friday, extending the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying above the 27,000 mark, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, as the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to stifle economic activity in most cities in the country. Seven more prefectures are put under state of emergency.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,096.65 down 184.52 points or 0.68 percent, after hitting a low of 27,034.58 earlier. Japanese shares closed significantly lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 3 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is declining almost 4 percent and Toyota is losing more than 2 percent after it revealed plans to slash its global output by 40 percent next month due to chip shortages.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging down 0.2 percent and Screen Holdings is declining more than 2 percent, while Tokyo Electron is flat. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Mizuho Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are losing almost 1 percent each.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are losing almost 1 percent, while Panasonic is down 1.5 percent. Sony is edging up 0.4 percent.

Among the other major losers, Denso is losing more than 6 percent while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and JTEKT are down almost 6 percent each. Nissan Motor, Mazda Motor, Toyota Tsusho and Nippon Yusen K.K. are declining almost 5 percent each. Mitsubishi Motors, Showa Denko K.K., Sumitomo Electric Industries, Isuzu Motors and Furukawa Electric are lower by more than 4 percent each.

Conversely, Fujikura is gaining almost 4 percent, Daiichi Sankyo is adding 3.5 percent and Ajinomoto is up almost 3 percent.

In economic news, overall consumer prices in Japan were down 0.3 percent on year in July, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Friday. That missed expectations for a flat reading following the downwardly revised 0.5 percent contraction in June (originally up 0.2 percent). On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, overall inflation was up 0.2 percent, matching forecasts and slowing from 0.3 percent in the previous month.

Core CPI, which excludes volatile food costs, was down 0.2 percent on year, exceeding expectations for a decline of 0.4 percent following the downwardly revised 0.5 percent drop a month earlier (originally up 0.2 percent). Core CPI was up 0.4 percent on month.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is losing 1.7 percent and China is down 1.3 percent, while New Zealand and South Korea are lower by 0.2 and 0.8 percent, respectively. Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore are higher by between 0.1 and 0.7 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction throughout the trading day on Thursday after pulling back sharply over the course of the two previous sessions. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before ending the day mixed.

While the Dow edged down 66.57 points or 0.2 percent to 34,894.12, the Nasdaq inched up 15.87 points or 0.1 percent to 14,541.79 and the S&P 500 crept up 5.53 points or 0.1 percent to 4,405.80.

Meanwhile, the major European markets showed significant moves to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index plummeted by 2.4 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures fell for a sixth straight session Thursday on worries about the outlook for energy demand after data showed a surprise build in gasoline inventories and continued spikes in coronavirus cases. West Texas Intermediate futures for September ended down $1.77 or 2.7 percent at $63.60 a barrel, a three-month low.

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