Asian Markets Mostly Lower Ahead Of Central Bank Meetings

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Monday, tracking the negative cues from Wall Street amid weak corporate earnings results and as investors shifted focus to key central bank meetings this week. The Bank of Japan will announce its monetary policy decision on Tuesday, while the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement is due on Wednesday.

The Australian market is declining following the negative cues from Wall Street. In addition, lower commodity prices are weighing on resources stocks.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 35.40 points or 0.56 percent to 6,264.80, off a low of 6,260.00. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 34.10 points or 0.53 percent to 6,357.40. Australian shares closed higher on Friday.

The big four banks – ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac – are lower in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices declined more than 1 percent on Friday. Santos is down 0.1 percent, Oil Search is lower by 0.3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.4 percent.

In the mining space, Rio Tinto is losing almost 1 percent and BHP Billiton is edging down 0.1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding 0.4 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower on Friday. Evolution Mining is declining 0.3 percent, while Newcrest Mining is adding 0.2 percent.

Healthscope has agreed to sell its Asian pathology business to private equity firm TPG Capital for A$279 million and expects to book a one-time gain of A$165 million in its 2018-19 financial results. However, the hospital operator’s shares are lower by almost 1 percent.

Telstra has announced management changes, including the appointment of former SBS boss Michael Ebeid to run its enterprise team, and Robyn Denholm as CFO following the departure of Warwick Bray. The telecom company’s shares are rising more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7402 up from $0.7388 on Friday.

The Japanese market is losing, tracking the weak cues from Wall Street and on caution ahead of the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy decision due on Tuesday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 135.99 points or 0.60 percent to 22,576.76, off a low of 22,518.394 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher on Friday.

The major exporters are mostly lower. Sony is declining more than 1 percent, Panasonic is down 0.4 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.1 percent, while Canon is adding 0.3 percent.

In the auto space, Toyota is adding 0.4 percent and Honda is rising 0.3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is advancing almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is higher by more than 1 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is advancing 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is adding 0.2 percent.

Among the market’s best performers, Ricoh is gaining 10 percent, Yahoo Japan is rising more than 7 percent and Alps Electric is higher by almost 5 percent.

On the flip side, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is losing almost 12 percent, while NGK Insulators is down almost 5 percent and Eisai Co. is declining more than 4 percent.

In economic news, Japan will release June figures for retail sales today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 111 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also lower, while Indonesia, Malaysia and Shanghai are modestly higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Friday, partly reflecting a negative reaction to earnings news from companies such as Twitter, Intel and Exxon Mobil. Traders largely shrugged off a report from the Commerce Department showing a significant acceleration in the pace of U.S. economic growth in the second quarter.

The Dow fell 76.01 points or 0.3 percent to 25,451.06, the Nasdaq plunged 114.77 points or 1.5 percent to 7,737.42 and the S&P 500 slid 18.62 points or 0.7 percent to 2,818.82.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.6 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices declined on Friday despite data from the U.S. Commerce Department showing the U.S. economy to have grown at its fastest pace in nearly four years in the second quarter. WTI crude for September fell $0.92 or 1.3 percent to $68.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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