Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are mixed on Friday amid cautious trades following the mixed signals from U.S. lawmakers on stimulus talks. While U.S. President Donald Trump said administration officials and Democrats are “starting to have some very productive talks”, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the idea of passing a stand-alone bill providing aid to airlines without a broader relief package.

The Australian market is edging lower after four straight days of gains. The market had opened higher following the overnight gains on Wall Street amid continued optimism about a coronavirus stimulus bill.

Gains by oil stocks and gold miners were offset by weakness in the mining and banking sectors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 10.00 points or 0.16 percent to 6,092.00, after rising to a high of 6,123.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 6.70 points or 0.11 percent to 6,299.10. Australian stocks closed higher on Thursday for the fourth straight day.

In the mining sector, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are declining almost 1 percent each, while BHP Group is down 0.1 percent.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank is losing 1.0 percent, while ANZ Banking and Westpac are lower by 0.6 percent each and Commonwealth Bank is down 0.3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent, Santos is advancing almost 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is up 0.2 percent after crude oil prices rose sharply overnight.

Gold miners are also higher after gold prices rose overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is adding 0.5 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the value of owner-occupied home loans issued in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 13.6 percent on month in August, coming in at A$16.28 billion. That was in line with expectations following the 10.7 percent increase in July.

The Japanese market pared initial gains and is modestly higher as investors digested mixed messages about stimulus talks from U.S. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In addition, a stronger yen weighed on exporters’ shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 17.69 points or 0.07 percent to 23,664.76, after rising to a high of 23,725.58 in early trades. Japanese stocks rose to a seven-month high on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is down 0.6 percent, while Fast Retailing is rising almost 3 percent.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Panasonic and Canon is losing more than 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is lower by almost 1 percent and Sony is down 0.6 percent.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is declining 0.6 percent and Advantest is down 0.2 percent.

Among banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are lower by almost 1 percent each. Among automakers, Toyota and Honda are declining almost 1 percent each.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is advancing more than 1 percent, while Inpex is lower by more than 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Seven & I Holdings is rising more than 4 percent, while M3 and GS Yuasa are higher by more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, JGC Holdings, Daiichi Sankyo, Mitsubishi Motors and Tokyo Tatemono are losing more than 3 percent each, while West Japan Railway and Citizen Watch are lower by almost 3 percent each.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was down 6.9 percent on year in August, coming in at 276,360 yen. That was in line with expectations following the 7.6 percent annual decline in July.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong and Malaysia are also lower. Meanwhile, Shanghai is rising more than 1 percent after the National Day holidays, New Zealand and Indonesia are modestly higher, and Singapore is edging higher. The markets in South Korea and Taiwan are closed on Friday for holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday, reflecting continued optimism about a coronavirus stimulus bill following the latest comments from President Donald Trump. In an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business, Trump said administration officials and Democrats are “starting to have some very productive talks.” Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected the idea of passing a stand-alone bill providing aid to airlines without a broader relief package.

The Dow rose 122.05 points or 0.4 percent to 28,425.51, the Nasdaq climbed 56.38 points or 0.5 percent to 11,420.98 and the S&P 500 advanced 27.38 points or 0.8 percent to 3,446.83.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Thursday due to the impact of Hurricane Delta on crude output in the Gulf of Mexico, and on hopes the U.S. policymakers will come out with some sort of stimulus sometime soon. Crude for November delivery jumped $1.24 or about 3.1 percent to $41.19 a barrel.

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