Asian Markets In Negative Territory

Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Thursday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street and as the rising number of coronavirus cases in Beijing as well as several U.S. states dampened hopes of a quick economic recovery.

The Australian market is declining amid worries about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Beijing and the U.S. Data showing that Australia’s unemployment rate in May exceeded expectations also weighed on the market.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 54.10 points or 0.90 percent to 5,937.70, just off a low of 5,936.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 54.20 points or 0.89 percent to 6,054.90. Australian stocks closed higher on Wednesday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is losing almost 2 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP are declining almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are also weak after gold prices dipped overnight. Evolution Mining is lower by more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is down more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Santos is declining 2 percent, while Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are losing almost 1 percent after crude oil prices fell more than 1 percent overnight.

Ampol, previously known as Caltex Australia, said it will not provide any profit outlook for the half year ended June 30 due to the business disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and continued hydrocarbon market volatility. The refiner and fuel retailer’s shares are losing more than 3 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are lower by more than 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking is down 0.6 percent and National Australia Bank is lower by 0.5 percent.

Westpac said it has sold its remaining 9.5 percent stake in fund manager Pendal Group to institutional investors for about $185.4 million.

Temple & Webster Group reported a 90 percent jump in second-half sales as people turned to online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. Shares of the furniture and homewares online store are climbing more than 10 percent.

Shares of Air New Zealand are losing more than 4 percent after the airline forecast a full-year underlying loss of up to NZ$120 million amid a fall in air travel demand due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Qantas Airways said it has cancelled international flights to all countries, except New Zealand, until late October. The airline’s shares are lower by more than 3 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the jobless rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 7.1 percent in May, missing forecasts for 7.0 percent and up from the upwardly revised 6.4 percent in April.

The Australian economy shed 227,700 jobs last month, again missing estimates for a decline of 125,000 following the loss of 594,300 in the previous month.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6871, compared to $0.6909 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session amid concerns over a second wave of coronavirus infections in Beijing and the U.S. In addition, a stronger yen weighed on exporters’ stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 128.13 points or 0.57 percent to 22,327.63, after touching a low of 22,300.90 in early trades. Japanese shares closed lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is rising more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is lower by more than 1 percent, while Canon and Panasonic are declining almost 1 percent each. Sony is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is adding 0.3 percent and Advantest is rising 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is lower by almost 1 percent and Honda Motor is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is losing more than 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by almost 2 percent after crude oil prices declined more than 1 percent overnight.

Among the major gainers, Furukawa Electric is rising more than 2 percent, while Nissan Chemical, Meiji Holdings and Olympus Corp. are higher by almost 2 percent each.

On the flip side, NTN Corp. is losing 5 percent, while Nippon Sheet Glass, JFE Holdings, Mitsui E&S Holdings and Kawasaki Heavy Industries are all lower by almost 4 percent each.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Malaysia are all losing more than 1 percent each, while Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia are also lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed in choppy trading on Wednesday as traders paused to digest the volatility seen in the markets over the past few weeks. Traders were also weighing recent data pointing to a quick economic recovery against reports showing a spike in new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in a number of southern states. In congressional testimony, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell warned that there continues to be significant uncertainty about the economic outlook.

The Dow slid 170.37 points or 0.7 percent to 26,119.61 and the S&P 500 fell 11.25 points or 0.4 percent to 3,113.49, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 14.66 points or 0.2 percent to 9,910.53.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Wednesday as worries about energy demand and excess supply in the market resurfaced and pushed down prices. WTI crude for July delivery fell $0.42 or about 1.1 percent to $37.96 a barrel.

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