Asian Markets Mixed In Thin Holiday Trading

Asian stock markets are mixed on Thursday following the modest gains overnight on Wall Street after U.K. regulators approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for emergency use.

Investors booked profits amid thin holiday trading ahead of the new year. Some of the regional markets are closed for New Year’s Eve, while some other markets have shortened trading sessions today.

The Australian market is extending losses from the previous session despite the positive cues from Wall Street.

An increase in the number of coronavirus cases in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia’s two most populous states, and restrictions on New Year Eve celebrations across Australia dampened sentiment. The market will close earlier than usual today for New Year’s Eve.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 30.10 points or 0.45 percent to 6,652.30, after falling to a low of 6,648.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 27.50 points or 0.40 percent to 6,915.40. Australian shares closed lower on Wednesday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is declining almost 1 percent, BHP Group is lower by 0.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are declining in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.8 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent, while Santos and Woodside Petroleum are down 0.2 percent each even as crude oil prices rose overnight.

Meanwhile, gold miners are higher after gold prices extended gains overnight. Evolution Mining is gaining almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing almost 1 percent.

Tech stocks are rebounding after losses in the previous session. AfterPay is advancing more than 1 percent, Appen is adding almost 1 percent and WiseTech Global is up 0.2 percent.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand is declining almost 1 percent, while Singapore and Malaysia are also lower. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher.

The markets in New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong will also close early today, while Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are closed for holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks closed modestly higher on Wednesday after seeing early strength as traders made another attempt at window dressing going into the end of the year. News that U.K. regulators have approved a coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for emergency use also generated some positive sentiment. Nonetheless, the upcoming New Year’s Day holiday on Friday kept overall trading activity relatively subdued. Traders also kept an eye on developments in Washington, as lawmakers haggle over increasing stimulus checks to $2,000 from $600.

The Dow rose by nearly 190 points in morning trading but ended the session up just 73.89 points or 0.2 percent at 30,409.56. The Nasdaq edged up 19.78 points or 0.2 percent to 12,870.00 and the S&P 500 inched up 5.00 points or 0.1 percent to 3,732.04.

The major European markets all moved to the downside on Wednesday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Wednesday, lifted by data showing a larger than expected decline U.S. crude inventories in the week ended December 25. A weaker dollar also contributed to oil’s uptick. WTI crude for February delivery rose $0.40 or about 0.8 percent to $48.40 a barrel.

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