Asian Markets Mostly Lower

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Thursday following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street amid fading hopes of U.S. fiscal stimulus before next month’s presidential election. The continued surge in coronavirus cases and fresh lockdown restrictions in parts of Europe also dampened sentiment.

The Australian market is rising, with stocks higher across the board despite the weak cues overnight from Wall Street.

Hopes of additional monetary easing by the Reserve Bank of Australia, including an interest rate cut, boosted sentiment. Investors also cheered data that showed a smaller than expected increase in Australia’s unemployment rate in September.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 48.10 points or 0.78 percent to 6,227.30, after touching a high of 6,231.50 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 45.70 points or 0.72 percent to 6,433.10. Australian stocks edged lower on Wednesday after seven straight days of gains.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is rising almost 3 percent, Fortescue Metals is higher by 2 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing almost 2 percent.

Gold miners are also higher after gold prices rose overnight. Newcrest Mining is adding 0.7 percent and Evolution Mining is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 1 percent to 1.4 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is adding 0.6 percent.

Oil stocks are advancing after crude oil prices extended gains overnight. Santos is higher by more than 2 percent, Oil Search is adding almost 2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding more than 1 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the unemployment rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 6.9 percent in September. That compared to expectations for 7.1 percent and was up from 6.8 percent in August.

The Australian economy shed 29,500 jobs last month – versus forecasts for a loss of 35,000 jobs following the addition of 111,000 in the previous month.

The Japanese market is modestly lower and the safe-haven yen strengthened following the weak cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 67.61 points or 0.29 percent to 23,559.12, after falling to a low of 23,527.36 earlier. Japanese stocks reversed early losses to end marginally higher on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is edging up 0.1 percent.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Canon is advancing 0.7 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.6 percent, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are down 0.4 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is declining almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining 0.4 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing 0.3 percent and Toyota is lower by 0.2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Dai Nippon Printing is rising more than 2 percent, while Toyo Seikan Group and JGC Holdings are higher by almost 2 percent each.

Conversely, Z Holdings is losing more than 3 percent and Asahi Group is lower by almost 3 percent. Rakuten and Cyberagent are declining more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will provide August figures for its tertiary industry index today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 105 yen-range on Thursday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Wednesday as comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offset recent optimism about a new stimulus bill. In remarks to the Milken Institute Global Conference, Mnuchin said getting something done on a new stimulus bill before the election “would be difficult.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also cast doubts about whether a bill can pass before the election and recently announced plans to vote on a more limited relief package.

The Dow dropped 165.81 points or 0.6 percent to 28,514.00, the Nasdaq slid 95.17 points or 0.8 percent to 11,768.73 and the S&P 500 fell 23.26 points or 0.7 percent to 3,488.67.

The major European markets finished mixed on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index crept up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Wednesday despite concerns about the energy demand outlook amid a continued surge in coronavirus cases and fresh lockdown restrictions in several places across the world. WTI crude futures for November ended up $0.84 or about 2.1 percent at $41.04 a barrel.

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