Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Friday, ignoring the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders remain optimistic about the global economic recovery ahead of the Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole gathering for clues on the timing of a tapering of monetary stimulus. Asian markets ended mostly lower on Thursday.

However, traders continue to be anxious amid the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus in the region and in several countries, particularly in Japan and the U.S., which continues to stifle economic activity.

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

NSW has reported 883 new local cases of COVID-19 and two deaths on Thursday. Victoria recorded 79 new locally acquired cases, with active cases now totalling 660 across the state. Authorities are thinking about a national plan to ease COVID-19 curbs and exit lockdowns once the country reaches a 70 to 80 percent vaccination rate.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 8.90 points or 0.12 percent to 7,482.30, after hitting a low of 7,465.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 14.10 points or 0.18 percent to 7,756.30. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group edging down 0.3 percent and Mineral Resources is losing almost 1 percent, while Rio Tinto is gaining almost 1 percent and OZ Minerals is edging up 0.5 percent. Fortescue Metals is flat.

Oil stocks are mixed. Oil Search and Santos are losing almost 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is edging down 0.4 percent. Origin Energy is gaining more than 1 percent and Beach energy is flat.

Among tech stocks, Xero and Afterpay are losing more than 1 percent each, while WiseTech Global is down almost 2 percent and Appen is declining more than 4 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking and Westpac are edging down 0.4 percent each, while National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are flat.

Gold miners are mixed. Newcrest Mining and Gold Road Resources are edging up 0.3 percent each, while Northern Star Resources is losing almost 1 percent and Resolute Mining is down almost 2 percent. Evolution Mining is flat.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.723 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading modestly lower on Friday, giving up the slight gains of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 staying above the 27,600 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street and as traders remain spooked by the record rise in coronavirus infections, which continues to stifle economic activity in most cities in the country, with eight more prefectures put under state of emergency.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,651.51 down 90.78 points or 0.33 percent, after hitting a low of 27,481.23 earlier. Japanese shares closed slightly higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are edging down 0.6 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is gaining almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.5 percent, while Screen Holdings is edging down 0.2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are edging down 0.5 percent each.

Among major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Canon and Sony are losing almost 1 percent each.

Among the other major losers, Mitsui E&S Holdings and Ebara are losing almost 3 percent each, while NEXON, Terumo, Sapporo Holdings, Toyota Tsusho and Idemitsu Kosan are down more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is gaining more than 7 percent, while Nippon Yusen K.K. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha are adding more than 4 percent. Yamaha Motor and Shiseido are up more than 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 110 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong, China, New Zealand, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. Singapore is bucking the trend and is down 0.6 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks closed weak on Thursday, retreating from record highs, as investors stayed quite wary of making significant moves as they looked ahead to comments from Fed officials at the annual Jackson Hole symposium on Friday.

Among the major averages, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq suffered their first losses in six sessions. The Dow ended down by 192.38 points or 0.54 percent at 35,213.12. The S&P 500 settled at 4,470.00 with a loss of 26.19 points or 0.58%, while the Nasdaq declined 96.05 points or 0.64 percent to settle at 14,945.81.

The major European markets also closed lower on the day as uncertainty about U.S. monetary policy, and weak economic data from Germany weighed on sentiment. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended 0.35 percent down, Germany’s DAX slid 0.42 percent and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.16 percent.

Crude oil futures settled notably lower on Thursday amid worries about outlook for energy demand due to a surge in coronavirus cases in several countries. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for October ended down by $0.94 or about 1.4 percent at $67.42 a barrel.

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