Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets, led by China, are mostly higher on Monday despite the lackluster cues from Wall Street Friday, as news that China’s central bank has injected liquidity into the financial system bolstered sentiment. Nevertheless, investors remained cautious amid worries about rising U.S.-China tensions and the stalled U.S. stimulus talks.

The Australian market is declining following the lackluster cues from Wall Street and on worries about the rising number of coronavirus deaths in Victoria. Banks and mining stocks are lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 45.50 points or 0.74 percent to 6,080.74, after touching a low of 6,078.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 41.80 points or 0.67 percent to 6,219.90. Australian stocks closed higher on Friday.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 1.1 percent to 1.9 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.6 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is declining 0.6 percent, BHP Group is lower by 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are also weak after gold prices slipped on Friday. Newcrest Mining is declining almost 1 percent and Evolution Mining is lower by 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, oil stocks are mostly higher even as crude oil prices edged lower on Friday. Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.5 percent and Santos is adding 0.2 percent, while Oil Search is down 0.6 percent.

JB Hi Fi reported a 21 percent increase in full-year profit and said it will pay a dividend increase of 47 percent. The electronics retailer’s shares are gaining more than 4 percent.

The Japanese market is losing following the lackluster cues from Wall Street and as investors digested data that showed the Japanese economy contracted by more than expected in the second quarter.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 154.32 points or 0.66 percent to 23,135.04, after touching a low of 23,087.63 earlier. The Japanese market closed slightly higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 3 percent and Fast Retailing is declining almost 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Canon is declining 0.4 percent, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are down 0.2 percent each. Panasonic is adding 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 0.3 percent. In the financial sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 0.3 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by 0.2 percent each.

Among automakers, Honda Motor is advancing more than 1 percent and Toyota is rising 0.4 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is higher by almost 1 percent, while Inpex is lower by 0.2 percent after crude oil prices edged lower on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Nissan Motor is rising more than 2 percent, Z Holdings is higher by 2 percent and Suzuki Motor is advancing almost 2 percent.

Conversely, Nippon Light Metal Holdings, Citizen Watch and Dentsu Group are all losing more than 3 percent each, while Chughai Pharmaceutical is lower by almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said on Monday’s preliminary report that Japan’s gross domestic product or GDP plummeted an annualized 27.8 percent on year in the second quarter of 2020. That missed expectations for a decline of 27.2 percent following the 2.2 percent drop in the previous three months.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 106 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai is rising almost 2 percent, while New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all advancing more than 1 percent each. Singapore is also higher, while Malaysia is lower. The South Korean and Indonesian markets are closed for holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed little changed in a choppy session on Friday. With earnings season largely in the rear-view mirror and talks about a new coronavirus relief bill at a stalemate, traders were unsure about the next catalyst to drive the markets. Traders were also digesting a slew of U.S. economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing retail sales jumped by less than expected in July amid a pullback in auto sales.

While the Dow inched up 34.30 points or 0.1 percent to 27,931.02, the Nasdaq dipped 23.20 points or 0.2 percent to 11,019.30 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.58 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 3,372.85.

The major European markets all moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index slid by 0.7 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both slumped by 1.6 percent.

Crude oil prices trimmed losses on Friday despite retail sales and industrial production numbers for July continuing to point to weak recovery in China. WTI crude futures dipped $0.23 to $43.01 a barrel.

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