Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Thursday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, on economic growth concerns, coronavirus woes and tumbling oil prices. There are renewed concerns about the pace of U.S. economic growth after payroll processor ADP said private sector employment increased less than expected in July. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Wednesday.
The Australian stock market is slightly higher in choppy trading on Thursday, extending the gains of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 back again above the 7,500 level at all-time highs, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, as Australia’s trade surplus increased to a fresh record high in June. The upside is capped as traders are spooked amid concerns about the worsening domestic coronavirus situation in New South Wales.
NSW has reported 262 new local cases on Thursday, the highest number of local cases ever recorded in the state in a day, with five deaths. Queensland recorded 16 new locally acquired cases and Victoria recorded six new cases.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 10.80 points or 0.14 percent to 7,513.80, after touching a all-time high of 7,526.40 and a low of 7,493.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 4.10 points or 0.05 percent to 7,774.60. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Wednesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group, Mineral Resources and OZ Minerals are losing almost 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is edging down 0.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.5 percent.
Oil stocks are mixed despite crude oil prices climbing overnight. Oil Search, Santos and Origin Energy are losing almost 2 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is down more than 1 percent and Beach Energy is declining almost 1 percent.
Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is gaining almost 1 percent, while Westpac and National Australia Bank are edging up 0.2 percent each. ANZ Banking is flat.
In the tech space, WiseTech Global is edging up 0.5 percent and Xero is gaining more than 1 percent, while Afterpay and Appen is edging down 0.4 percent each.
Gold miners are mixed. Evolution Mining, Gold Road Resources and Newcrest Mining are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Northern Star Resources is down more than 1 percent.
Resolute Mining is gaining almost 4 percent after the gold miner said it would sell its Bibiani mine in Ghana to Canada’s Asante Gold Corp for $90 million, after China’s Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining cancelled a deal to buy the mine.
In economic news, Australia posted a merchandise trade surplus of A$10.496 billion in June, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of A$10.45 billion following the downwardly revised A$9.269 billion surplus in the previous month (originally A$9.681 billion). Exports were up A$1.489 billion or 4.0 percent on month to A$43.337 billion following the 6.0 percent increase in May. Imports climbed A$261 million or 1.0 percent on month to A$32.840 billion following the 3.0 percent gain a month earlier.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.739 on Thursday.
The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, recouping most of the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 moving above the 27,600 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, even as the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus continues to stifle economic activity in 30 cities in the country.
There was an unprecedented 14,207 new cases on Tuesday, led by a record 4,166 infections for Olympic city Tokyo.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,678.79, up 94.71 points or 0.34 percent, after touching a high of 27,741.55 earlier. Japanese shares ended modestly lower on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is edging down 0.3 percent, while Honda is gaining almost 2 percent.
In the tech space, Advantest and Screen Holdings are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Tokyo Electron is up almost 2 percent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are edging up 0.3 percent each, while Mizuho Financial is flat.
The major exporters are mixed. Sony and Panasonic are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.3 percent. Canon is flat.
Among the other major gainers, Hitachi Zosen is gaining more than 7 percent, Rakuten Group is adding almost 7 percent, Mitsui E&S Holdings is up more than 6 percent, Nippon Yusen K.K. is rising almost 6 percent, Terumo is gaining more than 5 percent and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is up almost 4 percent, while SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings, Sumitomo and Minebea Mitsumi are adding more than 3 percent.
Conversely, Ricoh is losing almost 12 percent and Isuzu Motors is down more than 5 percent, while Mazda Motor, GS Yuasa and Alps Alpine are declining almost 3 percent each.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 109 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, South Korea, China and Singapore are lower by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent, while Malaysia and Indonesia are higher by 0.2 and 0.6 percent, respectively. Taiwan and Hong Kong are flat.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq bucked the downtrend. The Dow slid firmly into negative territory, while the S&P 500 pulled back off Tuesday’s record closing high.
The Dow slumped 323.73 points or 0.9 percent to 34,792.67 and the S&P 500 fell 20.49 points or 0.5 percent to 4,402.66. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq spent most of the day lingering near the unchanged line before closing up 19.24 points or 0.1 percent at 14,780.53.
Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index jumped by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index both rose 0.3 percent.
Crude oil prices plummeted again on Wednesday, extending the sharp pullback seen over the two previous sessions, following an unexpected increase in crude oil inventories last week. West Texas Intermediate crude sank $2.41 or 3.4 percent to $68.15 a barrel.
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