Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Friday, following the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, as traders remain cautious and concerned about the outlook for interest rates ahead of the release of the US Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report later in the day. Data showing contraction in manufacturing activity in Asia and Europe also ignited worries about a recession. Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday.

Weak crude oil and gold prices took a toll of energy and materials shares as well as reports showing a surge in COVID-19 cases in China weighed on market sentiment.

The Australian stock market is relatively flat in choppy trading on Friday, after the losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 6,800 level, with the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, as weak crude oil and gold prices took a toll of energy and materials stocks, mostly offset by gains in technology and financial stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 3.90 points or 0.06 percent to 6,849.50, after touching a high of 6,853.80 and a low of 6,825.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 2.70 points or 0.04 percent to 7,077.20. Australian markets ended sharply lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are losing almost 2 percent each, while Mineral Resources is declining almost 3 percent. OZ Minerals is adding almost 1 percent.

Oil stocks are weak. Origin Energy and Santos are edging down 0.3 to 0.5 percent each, while Beach energy and Woodside Energy are losing almost 1 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay owner Block is gaining almost 3 percent, Zip is adding almost 2 percent and Appen is edging up 0.5 percent, while Xero is edging down 0.5 percent. WiseTech Global is flat.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are gaining almost 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking and Westpac are edging up 0.4 percent each.

Gold miners are weak. Resolute Mining is losing almost 4 percent and Northern Star Resources is slipping almost 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining, Evolution Mining and Gold Road Resources are edging down 0.4 to 0.5 percent each.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.679 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is slightly lower in choppy trading on Friday, extending the losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying a tad above the 27,600 level, following the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, with the Yen dropping to a fresh 24-year low and breaching the key psychological level of 140.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,604.37, down 57.10 points or 0.21 percent, after hitting a low of 27,570.74 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is adding more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging up 0.3 percent and Toyota is edging down 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is losing almost 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings are edging down 0.2 percent each.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is edging up 0.2 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down 0.2 percent. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is flat.

Among major exporters, Canon is edging down 0.5 percent, while Panasonic and Sony are losing more than 1 percent each. Mitsubishi Electric is gaining almost 1 percent.

Among the other major losers, NEXON is losing almost 5 percent, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Pacific Metals, Inpex and Sumitomo Metal Mining are declining almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings is gaining almost 4 percent and J. Front Retailing is adding more than 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 140 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan are lower by between 0.4 and 0.8 percent each, while China, South Korea and Indonesia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent each. New Zealand and Malaysia are relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a substantial turnaround over the course of the trading day on Thursday following another sell-off early in the session. The major averages bounced well off their lows of the session, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching positive territory.

The Dow climbed 145.99 points or 0.5 percent to 31,656.42 after falling by nearly 300 points, while the S&P 500 rose 11.85 points or 0.3 percent to 3,966.85. The tech-heavy Nasdaq also rebounded well off its worst level of the day but still closed down 31.08 points or 0.3 percent to 11,785.13.

Meanwhile, the major European markets also showed significant moves to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index plunged 1.9 percent, the German DAX Index and French CAC 40 Index slumped by 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures ended sharply lower Thursday on rising concerns about the outlook for energy demand and worries that aggressive rate hikes by major central banks may lead to a global economic slowdown. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for September ended lower by $2.94 or 3.3 percent at $86.61 a barrel.

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