(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly trading notably lower on Friday, with investors pressing sales, tracking Wall Street's sharp losses overnight and on worries about the global economy on the back of a weak manufacturing report from China.
After a weak start and a subsequent smart recovery, the Australian market tumbled on selling at higher levels.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rallied to 5,278.6 after an early setback, declined to 5,241.8 and is currently down 11.5 points or 0.2 percent at 5,251.5. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 10.6 points or 0.2 percent at 5,264.9, well off the day's high of 5,289.7.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are down marginally, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is trading slightly higher. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is up 0.3 percent and Bank of Queensland is down 0.4 percent.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) is up 0.5 percent, Rio Tinto (RIO) is trading higher by 1.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is up marginally, while Newcrest Mining is gaining more than 6.5 percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Origin Energy are up 0.8 to 1.2 percent. Caltex Australia is trading marginally up, while Santos is trading nearly a percent down.
Oz Minerals, Orora, Beach Energy, Regis Resources, Amcor, Brambles, Transurban Group and James Hardie Industries are up 1 to 3.2 percent.
ResMed Inc. ( RMD ) is trading more than 5 percent down. Cochlear, Myer Holdings, Crown Resorts, Harvey Norman Holdings and Toll Holdings are trading lower by 2.5 to 3.2 percent. Carsales.Com, Aristocrat Leisure, David Jones and UGL are also trading sharply lower.
Meanwhile, Oz Minerals, Regis Resources, Beach Energy, Transurban Group, Sonic Healthcare, Orora, James Hardie Industries, Brambles and CSL are trading higher, gaining 1.3 to 3.3 percent.
Shares of Aurizon Holdings are down 0.6 percent. The freight operator announced that it moved 56.2 million tonnes during the December quarter, marking an 11 percent increase compared with the corresponding period in 2012 and a new record. Iron ore volumes rose to 7.8 million tonnes during the final quarter of 2013, an increase of 30 percent on the equivalent period a year earlier.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar was quoting at US$0.8767 around noon, as compared to Thursday's close of US$0.8803.
The Japanese market declined sharply, with investors going on a selling spree across the board.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which plunged to 15,377.6, losing nearly 320 points in the process, was down 241.1 points or 1.5 percent at 15,454.8 at the end of the morning session.
Yaskawa Electric Corp. plunged more than 6 percent. Yokogawa Electric, Daiichi Sankyo, Softbank Corp., T&D Holdings, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Sumco Corp., Fujikura, Okuma Corp. and Marui Group lost 3 to 4.5 percent.
Furukawa Electric, Fuji Electric, Panasonic Corp. (PC), Mitsumi Electric, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Fanuc Corp., Furukawa, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Konica Minolta, Toho Zinc and Mizuho Financial Group (MFJ) all lost over 2 percent.
Among the stocks that bucked the trend, Nitto Denko Corp. gained nearly 7.5 percent, Mitsui Chemicals moved up 3.2 percent and Minebea rose 2.5 percent.
Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Taisei Corp., Obayashi Corp., Osaka Gas, Unitika, Tokyo Gas and Taiheiyo Cement also posted notable gains.
In the currency market, the yen is trading at 103.52 to the U.S. dollar, after hovering around 103.30 in early deals.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia, New Zealand, South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore are all trading notably lower, while Shanghai and Taiwan are trading in positive territory with modest gains.
On Wall Street, stocks ended sharply lower on Thursday, with weak existing home sales data and a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing activity hurting sentiment.
The major averages climbed well off their worst levels in afternoon trading but still closed firmly in the red. The Dow tumbled 176 points or 1.1 percent to 16,197.3, the Nasdaq slid 24.1 points or 0.6 percent to 4,218.9 and the S&P 500 dropped 16.4 points or 0.9 percent to 1,828.5.
Major European markets too closed notably lower on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 index dropped by 1 percent, the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil moved up for a fourth straight session to end at a three-week high on Thursday, after data from the official U.S. Energy Information Administration showed distillate stockpiles to have declined more than expected last week, not withstanding a better than expected rise in crude and gasoline inventories.
Crude for March delivery gained $0.59 or 0.6 percent to close at $97.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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