(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mixed on Friday, with some of the markets paring early gains, as lingering worries about the coronavirus pandemic more than offset the positive sentiment generated by the overnight gains on Wall Street amid the surge in crude oil prices. The total number of global coronavirus cases has crossed one million, while the death toll reached more than 52,000. Crude oil prices tumbled more than 4 percent in Asian trading.
The Australian market slipped into negative territory after opening notably higher following the overnight gains on Wall Street.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 22.30 points or 0.43 percent to 5,132.00, after rising to a high of 5,246.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 18.30 points or 0.35 percent to 5,170.40. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Thursday.
In the oil sector, Oil Search is climbing almost 12 percent, Santos is higher by 10 percent and Woodside Petroleum is rising almost 5 percent after crude oil prices soared overnight by 24.7 percent for the biggest one-day percentage gain on record.
Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining almost 3 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding more than 2 percent as safe-haven gold prices snapped a four-day losing streak and rose almost 3 percent overnight.
In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is gaining 5 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP are advancing almost 3 percent each.
Among the four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 1.2 percent to 1.7 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.5 percent.
Treasury Wine Estates said it has been sued by Slater + Gordon on behalf of shareholders who bought shares before it revised its guidance in January. However, the wine company's shares are rising more than 3 percent.
On the economic front, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed that the construction sector in Australia continued to contract in March, and at a faster rate, with a seasonally adjusted Performance of Construction Index score of 37.9. That's down from 42.7 and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. It also marks the lowest index reading since May 2013.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that retail sales in Australia rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent on month in February, coming in at A$27.755 billion. That beat expectations for an increase of 0.4 percent following the 0.3 percent decline in January.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6062, compared to $0.6184 on Thursday.
The Japanese market is advancing and the safe-haven yen weakened following the overnight gains on Wall Street amid the surge in oil prices on hopes the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia would end soon.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 116.22 points or 0.65 percent to 17,934.94, after rising to a high of 18,059.15 in early trades. Japanese stocks extended losses for the fourth straight day on Thursday.
In the oil sector, Inpex is gaining more than 6 percent and Japan Petroleum is rising almost 5 percent after the surge in crude oil prices overnight.
Market heavyweight SoftBank is edging up 0.1 percent and Fast Retailing is advancing more than 1 percent.
The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Canon is rising 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 2 percent, while Sony and Panasonic are adding 0.5 percent.
In the tech space, Advantest is higher by more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding 0.3 percent. Automaker Toyota is advancing almost 1 percent and Honda is up 0.5 percent.
Among the other major gainers, Denka Co. is climbing more than 16 percent, while Oji Holdings and Secom Co. are rising more than 6 percent each. Fujifilm Holdings and Yamato Holdings are higher by more than 5 percent each.
On the flip side, Taiyo Yuden is losing more than 5 percent and Subaru Corp. is lower by almost 5 percent. TDK Corp. and Sumco Corp. are declining more than 4 percent each.
On the economic front, the services sector in Japan continued to contract in March, and at a much steeper rate, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Friday with a services PMI score of 33.8. That's down sharply from 46.8 in February, and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The composite index came in with a score of 36.2, down from 47.0 in February.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 108 yen-range on Friday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong are also lower, while Shanghai is edging lower. Indonesia is advancing more than 1 percent, while South Korea and New Zealand are modestly higher. The markets in Taiwan are closed for a holiday.
On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Thursday due in large part to strength among energy stocks, which moved sharply higher along with the price of crude oil. The jump in oil prices came after President Donald Trump expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia and Russia would resolve their price war within a "few days." Trump also indicated he has invited oil executives to the White House to discuss ways to help the industry, saying, "We don't want to lose our great oil companies."
The Dow surged up 469.93 points or 2.2 percent to 21,413.44, the Nasdaq jumped 126.73 points or 1.7 percent to 7,487.31 and the S&P 500 spiked 56.40 points or 2.3 percent to 2,526.90.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both rose by 0.3 percent.
Crude oil prices skyrocketed on Thursday amid hopes the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia would end soon. WTI crude for May delivery soared $5.01 to $25.32 a barrel, soaring by 24.7 percent for the biggest one-day percentage gain on record.
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