Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are mixed on Friday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street and as worries about the rising number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and China offset hopes of a quick economic recovery. However, a Chinese health expert said that the coronavirus outbreak in Beijing is under control.

The Australian market is rising. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 32.20 points or 0.54 percent to 5,968.70, after touching a high of 6,000.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 36.00 points or 0.59 percent to 6,087.90. Australian stocks closed lower on Thursday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is rising almost 2 percent and BHP is adding 0.3 percent, while Rio Tinto is down 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is higher by more than 1 percent and Oil Search is adding almost 1 percent, while Santos is declining 0.6 percent after crude oil prices rose more than 2 percent overnight.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent, while ANZ Banking is down 0.6 percent.

AMP said it has appointed Boe Pahari, its global head of infrastructure equity, as its chief executive from July 1, succeeding Adam Tindall who is retiring after five years in that role. The financial services group’s shares are higher by more than 2 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices declined overnight. Evolution Mining is lower by more than 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is up 0.3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6852, compared to $0.6872 on Thursday.

The Japanese market has pared early gains and is modestly higher. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 29.11 points or 0.13 percent to 22,384.57, after touching a high of 22,519.96 in early trades. Japanese shares closed lower for the second straight day on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing almost 2 percent.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is losing almost 3 percent and Panasonic is lower by more than 1 percent. Sony and Canon are declining almost 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is gaining almost 5 percent and Advantest is rising almost 3 percent. Among automakers, Honda Motor is declining more than 1 percent and Toyota is lower by almost 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is lower by 2 percent and Inpex is down 0.5 percent even as crude oil prices rebounded overnight.

Among the other major gainers, NH Foods and Keio Corp. are rising almost 3 percent, while Screen Holdings and Trend Micro are advancing almost 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Dena Co. is losing more than 3 percent, while Ricoh Co., Mitsubishi Estate, Mitsubishi Materials, JFE Holdings and Nippon Kayaku are all lower by more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan will release the minutes from its emergency monetary policy meeting on May 22. At the meeting, the BoJ introduced a new lending program to help small and medium-sized firms and left its target for short-term interest rate and the bond yield target unchanged.

Japan also will see nationwide May figures for consumer prices today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed for a second day on Thursday as traders digested a mixed batch of U.S. economic data. Before the start of trading, the Labor Department released a report showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by much less than expected in the week ended June 13. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve released a separate report showing an unexpected expansion in regional manufacturing activity in the month of June.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed higher for the fifth straight session, rising 32.52 points or 0.3 percent to 9,943.05. The S&P 500 also inched up 1.85 points or 0.1 percent to 3,115.34, while the Dow dipped 39.51 points or 0.2 percent to 26,080.10.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index dropped by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both slid by 0.8 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Thursday amid hopes the members of OPEC and the group’s allies will comply with their production cut deal. WTI crude oil for July delivery jumped $0.88 or about 2.3 percent to $38.84 a barrel.

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