Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Friday, following the mixed cues from global markets overnight, as traders largely cautious and refrained from making significant moves ahead of the release of the closely watched US monthly jobs data later in the day, which could affect the outlook for interest rates. Meanwhile, traders are optimistic over a Chinese demand recovery amid easing Covid curbs in China. Asian markets ended mostly higher on Thursday.

The Australian stock market is notably lower on Friday, giving up some of the gains in the previous three sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 falling below the 7,300 level, following the mixed cues from global markets overnight, with losses in energy and financial stocks partially offset by gains in gold miners.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 55.20 points or 0.75 percent to 7,299.10, after hitting a low of 7,296.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 55.60 points or 0.74 percent to 7,498.40. Australian markets ended significantly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are losing almost 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.5 percent. Mineral Resources is edging up 0.5 percent and OZ Minerals is flat.

Oil stocks are weak. Santos is losing more than 1 percent, Woodside Energy is declining almost 2 percent and Beach energy is edging down 0.4 percent, while Origin Energy is edging up 0.1 percent.

Shares in Warrego Energy are surging almost 9 percent after Beach energy sweetened its acquisition offer for the next generation oil and gas company amid receipt of competing bids from two others.

Among tech stocks, WiseTech Global and Xero are losing almost 1 percent each, while Afterpay owner Block and Zip are gaining almost 1 percent each. Appen is flat.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are losing almost 1 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is declining more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are higher. Northern Star Resources is gaining more than 2 percent, Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 3 percent, Evolution Mining is adding almost 3 percent. Gold Road Resources is up almost 2 percent and Resolute Mining is surging 5.5 percent.

In economic news, the value of retail sales in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent on month in October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Friday – coming in at A$35.017 billion. That missed forecasts for an increase of 0.2 percent following the 0.6 percent gain in September. On a yearly basis, retail sales climbed 12.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the value of owner-occupied home loans issued in Australia in October was down a seasonally adjusted 2.9 percent on month, coming in at A$17.16 billion. That exceeded expectations for a decline of 4.5 percent following the 9.3 percent drop in September. On a yearly basis, home loans stumbled 17.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.680 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is sharply lower on Friday, giving up all of the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 falling below the 27,700 level, following the mixed cues from global markets overnight, with weakness across all sectors, led by exporters and financial stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,679.84, down 546.24 points or 1.94 percent, after hitting a low of 27,662.12. Japanese stocks closed significantly higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.5 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are declining more than 2 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are edging down 0.2 to 0.4 percent each.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are losing almost 2 percent each, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down almost 1 percent.

Among major exporters, Canon is losing 2.5 percent, Sony is declining almost 2 percent, Panasonic is slipping almost 3 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down more than 3 percent.

Among the other major losers, Daiichi Sankyo, Mitsubishi Motors and T&D Holdings are losing almost 5 percent each, while Fujikura, Japan Steel Works, NTN and Minebea Mitsumi are slipping more than 4 percent each. MS&AD Insurance Group and Olympus are down almost 4 percent each, while JFE Holdings, Citizen Watch, Yamaha Motor, JGC Holdings, Sompo Holdings and Seiko Epson are declining more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, CyberAgent is surging almost 6 percent.

In economic news, the monetary base in Japan was down 6.4 percent on year in November, the Bank of Japan said on Friday – coming in at 616.820 trillion yen. That follows the 6.9 percent annual contraction in October. The seasonally adjusted monetary base was up 17.0 percent after tumbling 33.0 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 135 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is down 1.1 percent, while New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia are lower by between 0.1 and 0.7 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Thursday after skyrocketing over the course of Wednesday’s session. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line, while the narrower Dow gave back ground.

The major averages eventually ended the session mixed. While the Nasdaq crept up 14.45 points or 0.1 percent to 11,482.45, the Dow slid 194.76 points or 0.6 percent to 34,395.01 and the S&P 500 edged down 3.54 points or 0.1 percent to 4,076.57.

The major European also turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged down 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index crept up 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index climbed 0.7 percent.

Crude oil futures settled higher Thursday on easing concerns about the outlook for energy demand, while a weaker dollar amid rising prospects of smaller rate hikes by the Fed also contributed to the increase in oil prices. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for January gained $0.67 or 0.8 percent at $81.22 a barrel.

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