Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Thursday, following the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, as traders closely followed the developments on the geopolitical front following a missile blast in Poland. Traders were also digesting a mixed batch of U.S. economic data, which added to recent uncertainty about the outlook for interest rates. Asian Markets closed mostly lower on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden said it was “unlikely” that the blast in Poland may have been caused by a missile fired from Russian territory. Separate reports suggested that Ukrainian air defense might have fired the missile that killed 2 in Poland.
The Australian stock market is slightly higher in choppy trading on Thursday, recouping some of the losses in the previous three sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,100 level, despite the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, as some gains in technology and financial stocks were partially offset by losses in energy and mining stocks amid weaker commodity prices.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 10.00 points or 0.14 percent to 7,132.20, after touching a high of 7,146.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 8.90 points or 0.12 percent to 7,336.30. Australian stocks ended modestly lower on Wednesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group is losing more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is declining almost 2 percent, while Mineral Resources is gaining more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is flat. OZ Minerals is still in a trading halt as BHP is rumoured to float a sweetened offer for the company.
Oil stocks are mixed. Beach energy is losing more than 1 percent and Woodside Energy is declining almost 1 percent, while Santos is edging up 0.1 percent and Origin Energy is gaining almost 1 percent.
In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block is losing almost 4 percent and Appen is down more than 1 percent, while WiseTech Global is gaining almost 2 percent and Zip is surging almost 6 percent.
Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank is gaining almost 2 percent and Commonwealth Bank is up more than 1 percent, while ANZ Banking and Westpac are adding almost 1 percent each.
Among gold miners, Northern Star Resources is gaining more than 1 percent, Gold Road Resources is adding almost 1 percent, Evolution Mining is advancing almost 2 percent and Resolute Mining is up 1.5 percent. Newcrest Mining is flat.
In other news, shares in Webjet are surging more than 8 percent after the travel agency said it is on track to exceed pre-pandemic profitability in fiscal 2023.
In economic news, the unemployment rate in Australia came in at a seasonally adjusted 3.4 percent in October, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That beat expectations for 3.6 percent and was down from 3.5 percent in September. The Australian economy added 32,200 jobs last month, blowing away forecasts for a gain of 15,000 jobs following the addition of 900 jobs in the previous month. Full-time employment put on 47,100 jobs in October, while part-time employment was down 14,900 jobs. The participation rate slipped to 66.5 percent, missing forecasts for 66.6, which would have been unchanged.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.671 on Thursday.
The Japanese stock market is slightly lower in choppy trading on Thursday, extending the slight gains in the previous two sessions, with the Nikkei 225 staying above the 28,000 mark, following the broadly negative cues from global markets overnight, as weakness in technology stocks were partially offset by gains in exporters and financial stocks. Traders also reacted to data showing Japan’s trade deficit widened.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,915.58, down 112.72 points or 0.40 percent, after hitting a low of 27,910.01 earlier. Japanese stocks closed slightly higher on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is gaining almost 1 percent and Honda is edging up 0.4 percent.
In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are losing almost 3 percent each, while Advantest is declining almost 4 percent.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.1 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining more than 1 percent and Mizuho Financial is adding almost 1 percent.
Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are edging up 0.3 to 0.5 percent each, while Panasonic is gaining 1.5 percent. Sony is edging down 0.4 percent.
Among the other major losers, Pacific Metals is losing more than 3 percent.
Conversely, JGC Holdings and Isetan Mitsukoshi are surging more than 5 percent each, while Takashimaya is gaining almost 5 percent. Tokyu, Keisei Electric Railway, Tobu Railway and Marui Group are advancing almost 4 percent each, while West Japan Railway, Keio, NEXON and Alps Alpine are adding more than 3 percent each. Central Japan Railway, Toray Industries, East Japan Railway and Dowa Holdings are up almost 3 percent each.
In economic news, Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 2,162.3 billion yen in October, the Ministry of Finance said on Thursday. That missed expectations for a shortfall of 1,610.0 billion yen following the downwardly revised 2,094.3 billion yen deficit in September (originally a 2,09.0 billion yen deficit).
Exports were up 25.3 percent on year to 9.001 trillion yen, shy of forecasts for a 28.1 percent increase following the 28.9 percent gain in the previous month. Imports surged an annual 53.5 percent versus expectations for a jump of 49.7 percent following the downwardly revised 45.7 percent increase a month earlier (originally 45.9 percent).
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid-139 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is plunging 2.7 percent, while China, South Korea and Taiwan are down between 0.9 and 1.3 percent each. Malaysia and Indonesia are down 0.3 and 0.5 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, New Zealand and Singapore are up 0.3 and 0.5 percent, respectively.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower over the course of the trading session on Wednesday, largely offsetting the upward move seen on Tuesday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a particularly steep drop, while the Dow spent much of the session lingering near the unchanged line.
After ending Tuesday’s trading at a nearly two-month closing high, the Nasdaq tumbled 174.52 points or 1.5 percent to 11,183.66, the S&P 500 also slumped 32.94 points or 0.8 percent to 3,958.79 and the narrower Dow edged down 39.09 points or 0.1 percent to 33,553.83.
The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index slumped 1.0 percent, the French CAC 40 Index slid 0.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index dipped 0.3 percent.
Crude oil prices slipped Wednesday amid concerns about the outlook for demand and the resumption of Russian oil shipments to Hungary. Oil prices fell despite data showing a larger-than-expected drop in crude inventories in the U.S. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for December ended lower by $1.33 or 1.5 percent at $85.59 a barrel.
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