(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Thursday with investors mostly tracking regional economic data for direction. The mood is generally cautious in the region, despite slightly easing worries about the partial government shutdown in the U.S.
The Australian stock market is trading weak, with lower commodity prices dragging down resources stocks. A weak unemployment report is also contributing to the decline.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 5,126.8, is currently trading at 5,139.6, down 13.4 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 12.6 points or 0.2 percent at 5,139, off the day's low of 5,126.9.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank is up 0.5 percent and Westpac (WBK) is up marginally, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are trading slightly weak. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down 0.5 percent, while Bank of Queensland is up 6.5 percent after reporting strong cash earnings of A$250.9 million for financial year 2013.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are trading lower by 1 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Regis Resources is down nearly 6 percent. PanAust and Newcrest Mining are trading lower by 3 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively.
Whitehaven Coal, Beach Energy, Mirvac Group, Crown, Woodside Petroleum, Seek, Twenty-First Century Fox, Investa Office Fund and UGL are down 1 to 2 percent.
Meanwhile, Asciano, ResMed Inc. ( RMD ), Fortescue Metals, Lend Lease Group, Flight Centre, Monadelphous Group and Arrium are trading in positive territory, gaining 1 to 3 percent.
On the economic front, Australia's unemployment rate came in at a seasonally adjusted 5.6 percent in September, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday - below forecasts for 5.8 percent, which would have been unchanged from the August reading.
The Australian economy added 9,100 jobs - missing expectations for an increase of 15,000 following the loss of 10,200 jobs in the previous month. The participation rate eased to 64.9 percent - shy of forecasts for 65.0 percent, which would have been unchanged from August.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened marginally higher against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9446, up from Wednesday's close of US$0.9433.
The Japanese stock market is trading notably higher on Thursday, with investors indulging in strong buying at several counters on the back of some encouraging economic data. Easing worries about the U.S. government shutdown and a stronger dollar are also contributing to the market's rise.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 14,165.5, was up 113.1 points or 0.8 percent at 14,151 at the end of the morning session.
Astellas Pharma, GS Yuasa Corp., SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings, Nisshin Steel Holdings, TDK Corp., Aeon, Fujitsu and Takeda Pharmaceutical rose 3 to 4 percent.
Mazda Motor Corp. and Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma gained nearly 3 percent. NEC Corp., Sharp Corp., Kao Corp., Hino Motors, Shionogi, Yahoo Japan Corp., Nissan Motor, Seven & I Holdings, Konica Minolta, Daiwa House Industry and Sekisui House all gained over 2 percent.
Among the losers, Nitto Denko Corp., Furukawa and Taiheiyo Cement were down more than 2 percent. Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Sumitomo Osaka Cement, Sony Corp. ( SNE ), Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Hitachi and Ube Industries also posted notable losses.
On the economic front, core machine orders in Japan were up a seasonally adjusted 5.4 percent in August compared to the previous month, the Cabinet Office said on Thursday. That beat forecasts for an increase of 2.5 percent following the flat reading in July.
On a yearly basis, core machine orders spiked 10.3 percent - also topping expectations for an increase of 8.5 percent following the 6.5 percent jump in the previous month.
The total number of machinery orders, including those volatile ones for ships and from electric power companies, added 4.5 percent on month and 25.9 percent on year.
According to a report from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the index measuring tertiary industry activity in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent at 100.4 in August, compared to the previous month. That beat forecasts for an increase of 0.4 percent following the 0.4 percent decline in July.
Among the individual components of the survey, industries that saw an increase in activity included retail sales, technical services, communications, accommodations and medical services. Moving lower were finance, real estate and utilities.
Meanwhile, overall bank lending in Japan was up 2.3 percent on year in September, the Bank of Japan said on Thursday, standing at 406.562 trillion yen. That follows the 2.3 percent annual increase in August.
Including trusts, bank lending was up 2.0 percent at 468.498 trillion yen - also unchanged from the previous month. Lending from foreign banks was down 4.1 percent on year to 2.058 trillion yen following the 6.6 percent annual contraction a month earlier.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-97 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 97.72 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea are trading weak, while Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore are trading higher.
On Wall Street, stocks ended on a mixed note Wednesday after a choppy ride, as traders weighed positive sentiment generated by news of the nomination of Janet Yellen as Federal Reserve Chairman against continued concerns about the ongoing government shutdown.
The Nasdaq slid 17.1 points or 0.5 percent to 3,677.8, while the Dow crept up 26.5 points or 0.2 percent to 14,803 and the S&P 500 inched up 0.9 points or 0.1 percent to 1,656.4.
Major European markets ended weak on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 index edged down by 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the German DAX index dropped by 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil plummeted to end at a more than three-month low on Wednesday, after the Energy Information Administration's weekly oil report showed U.S. crude stockpiles to have increased several times more than what analysts expected.
Crude for November delivery tumbled $1.80 or 1.8 percent to close at $101.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
For comments and feedback: contact firstname.lastname@example.org