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Asian Markets Exhibit Mixed Trend

by April 15, 2016 General
CANBERA (dpa-AFX) – Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Friday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors are treading cautiously after the release of a raft of economic data by China, including its first-quarter GDP numbers that was in line with analysts’ expectations.

China’s gross domestic product or GDP expanded 6.7 percent on year in the first quarter of 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday. That was in line with expectations and down from 6.8 percent in the three months prior.

The Australian market has recovered after a weak start and is up with modest gains. Banking stocks are higher, helping offset weakness in the resources sector.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 13.70 points or 0.27 percent to 5,132.30, after falling to 5,113.10 in early trades. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 12.80 points or 0.25 percent to 5,200.50.

In the banking sector, Westpac Banking, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent.

Among the big miners, BHP Billiton is losing 0.4 percent, Rio Tinto is down more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is lower by almost 4 percent following the decline in iron ore prices overnight.

Rio Tinto will supply China’s Sinosteel with 70 million tonnes of iron ore over the next five years following an extension of the two companies’ joint venture in Western Australia.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is losing almost 2 percent and peer Evolution Mining is down 0.6 percent after gold prices slid overnight.

In the oil space, Oil Search is down 0.8 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are declining more than 1 percent each as oil prices fell overnight.

Data management group Recall Holdings will be removed from the Australian stock exchange next Thursday following its A$3.4 billion takeover by U.S.-based logistics giant Iron Mountain.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar has risen to a nine-month high against the U.S. dollar on Friday after chances of a rate cut in May dimmed further. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7695, up from US$0.7654 on Thursday.

The Japanese market pared its early losses and is marginally lower, as investors took profits following three straight days of gains. News about a strong earthquake overnight in southwestern Japan also dampened investor sentiment.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 59.83 points or 0.35 percent to 16,851.22, off a low of 16,720.39 in early trades.

Exporters are weak. Sony is declining almost 3 percent, Canon is down 0.5 percent, and Sharp is declining 0.7 percent. Market heavyweight Fast Retailing is losing 0.3 percent.

The Nikkei business daily reported that talks on integrating former Sony unit Vaio and the personal computer businesses of Toshiba as well as Fujitsu will likely fall through due to disagreements over issues like growth strategies and factory consolidation. Shares of Fujitsu are down more than 5 percent, while Toshiba is lower by 0.4 percent.

Automakers Toyota and Honda are down almost 1 percent each. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is down almost 1 percent and refiner JX Holdings is lower by 0.2 percent as oil prices fell overnight.

Among the other losers, Kobe Steel and JFE Holdings are down more than 2 percent each, while Kubota Corp. is losing more than 1 percent.

In economic news, Japan will see final February numbers for industrial production later today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 109 yen-level on Friday, almost unchanged from Thursday’s close in Tokyo.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia are up with modest gains, while Shanghai, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore are marginally lower.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction before ending mixed on Thursday, as traders took a breather following the strong gains posted in the two previous sessions. Traders were also digesting the latest batch of U.S. economic data, including a Labor Department report showing tame consumer price inflation.

While the Nasdaq edged down 1.53 points or less than 0.1 percent to 4,945.89, the Dow ticked up 18.15 points or 0.1 percent to 17,926.43 and the S&P 500 inched up 0.36 points or less than 0.1 percent to 2,082.78.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Thursday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index closed just above the unchanged line, while the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures were slightly lower Thursday as the U.S. dollar held its ground versus major rivals. WTI crude oil for May settled at $41.50 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down 26 cents, or 0.6 percent.

Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX