Asian Markets Mostly Higher Amid Cautious Trades
Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Thursday, ignoring the negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders continued to be optimistic about strong economic rebound from the pandemic following increased Covid-19 vaccination rates. The mood in the markets are also subdued due to concerns over rising inflation as traders await the release of key U.S. inflation data, due later in the day, for indications on the outlook for the world’s biggest economy. Asian markets closed mostly lower on Wednesday.
The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, recouping the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,300 level near all-time highs, ahead of a key US inflation reading later in the session. The cues overnight from Wall Street were negative. The market is supported by gold miners and technology stocks, with materials and energy firms lower.
Meanwhile, traders remain concerned about the COVID-19 infection cases in the country’s second-most populous state of Victoria, with four new local cases from the same household reported as Melbourne area entered the last day of lockdown. There are also reports of potential spreads to New South Wales and Queensland.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 19.90 points or 0.27 percent to 7,290.10, after touching a high of 7,307.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 21.30 points or 0.28 percent to 7,543.30. Australian markets ended modestly lower on Wednesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group, Rio Tinto, Mineral Resources and OZ Minerals are losing almost 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is down more than 1 percent.
Oil stocks are lower after crude oil prices edged down overnight. Oil Search is losing almost 2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum, Beach Energy and Santos are down more than 1 percent each. Origin Energy is declining almost 1 percent.
Among Tech stocks, Appen and WiseTech Global are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Afterpay is up almost 1 percent and Xero is adding almost 2 percent.
Among the big four banks, Westpac and National Australia Bank are edging up 0.3 percent each, while ANZ Banking is edging down 0.2 percent. Commonwealth Bank is flat.
Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining almost 1 percent and Northern Star Resources is adding more than 1 percent, while Resolute Mining is losing almost 1 percent. Newcrest Mining and Gold Road Resources are edging up 0.4 percent each.
In other news, ASIC has launched civil proceedings against shipbuilder Austal and its former chief executive David Singleton for an alleged breach of continuous disclosure obligations three years ago. The stock is down almost 1 percent
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.773 on Thursday.
The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, snapping the two straight sessions of losses, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 just below the 29,000 mark, ignoring the negative cues overnight from Wall Street. However, traders remain concerned after the Japanese government extended the COVID-19 state of emergency to contain the spread of the virus, though the daily infection rates are steadily declining since it peaked in mid-May.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also eased travel recommendations for more than 110 countries and territories, including Japan just ahead of the Olympics.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,982.70, up 121.90 points or 0.42 percent, after touching a high of 29,007.53 in earlier. Japanese shares ended modestly lower on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing 0.5 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Toyota and Honda are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Mazda is losing almost 2 percent.
In the tech space, Advantest is gaining more than 1 percent, Screen Holdings is up almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron are adding almost 3 percent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 1 percent, Mizuho Financial is down more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging down 0.4 percent.
The major exporters are mixed. Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 1 percent and Panasonic is down almost 1 percent, while Sony is adding almost 1 percent and Canon is gaining more than 1 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Shionogi & Co. is gaining more than 7 percent, Nippon Yusen K.K. is up almost 4 percent and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is adding more than 3 percent, while Kobe Steel, Toto, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Terumo, Amada and M3 are all rising almost 3 percent each. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Chugai Pharmaceutical, Isuzu Motors and Daiichi Sankyo are up more than 2 percent each.
Conversely, Eisai is losing almost 7 percent and NH Foods is down more than 3 percent, While Citizen Watch and Nippon Express declining more than 2 percent each. Konica Minolta Inc. Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Z Holdings, Obayashi, Sekisui House and Taisei are down almost 2 percent each.
In economic news, producer prices in Japan were up 0.7 percent on month in May, the Bank of Japan said on Thursday. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.5 percent and was down from 0.9 percent in April. On a yearly basis, producer prices climbed 4.9 percent, again beating forecasts for 4.5 percent and up from an upwardly revised 3.8 gain in the previous month. This was the third straight month of producer price inflation and the highest since September 2008.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 109 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore are all higher by between 0.4 and 0.6 percent. Meanwhile, New Zealand and Malaysia are relatively flat.
On Wall Street, stocks closed slightly weak on Wednesday as investors largely stayed cautious and refrained from making significant moves ahead of the much-awaited inflation data, due on Thursday. Despite continued optimism about strong economic rebound, the mood in the market was subdued due to concerns over rising inflation and fears about the Federal Reserve starting discussions on tapering its asset buying program sooner than expected.
Among the major averages, the Dow ended down by 152.68 points or 0.44 percent at 34,447.14. The S&P 500 closed lower by 7.71 points or 0.18 percent at 4,219.55, while the tech-laden Nasdaq edged down 13.16 points or 0.09 percent to 13,911.75.
The major European markets closed mixed on Wednesday with traders largely staying wary of building up positions. France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.19 percent, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended 0.2 percent down and Germany’s DAX declined 0.38 percent.
Crude oil prices edged lower on Wednesday after data showed a jump in U.S. gasoline stockpiles last week. West Intermediate crude oil futures for July ended down $0.09 or 0.1 percent at $69.96 a barrel.
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