Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Thursday, following the mixed cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders remain cautious and have been reluctant to make more significant moves amid lingering uncertainty over the outlook for interest rates after recent economic data and hawkish comments from some US Fed officials. Asian Markets closed mixed on Wednesday.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari suggested on Tuesday that interest rates may need to remain at current levels for an extended period and said he couldn't rule out another rate increase.

The Fed is still widely expected to lower rates sometime in the third quarter, however, with CME Group's FedWatch Tool currently indicating an 83.5 percent chance rates will be lower by September.

The Australian market is significantly lower on Thursday, snapping a five-session winning streak, following the mixed cues from Wall Street overnight. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 is falling well below the 7,800 level, with losses in financial and technology stocks partially offset by gains in energy stocks amid higher crude oil prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 71.60 points or 0.92 percent to 7,732.90, after hitting a low of 7,804.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 70.90 points or 0.88 percent to 8,005.80. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Wednesday.

Among major miners, Mineral Resources is losing almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.3 percent. BHP Group and Rio Tinto are flat.

Oil stocks are mostly higher. Woodside Energy and Santos are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Beach energy is adding more than 1 percent. Origin Energy is edging down 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block and Xero are losing almost 1 percent each, while Appen is declining almost 2 percent. Zip is gaining almost 1 percent. WiseTech Global is flat.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is losing more than 1 percent, ANZ Banking is edging down 0.3 percent, National Australia Bank is down almost 1 percent and Westpac is declining more than 2 percent.

Among gold miners, Gold Road Resources is losing almost 1 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging down 0.3 percent, while Resolute Mining is adding more than 1 percent and Newmont is edging up 0.1 percent. Evolution Mining is flat.

In other news, shares in Baby Bunting are plunging 20 percent after the nursery retailer downgraded its profit guidance and warned consumers are being hit by rising living costs.

In economic news, the total number of building permits issued in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 1.9 percent on month in March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday - coming in at 12,947. That was in line with expectations following the 0.9 percent decline in February. On a yearly basis, total approvals fell 2.2 percent. The value of total building approved rose 15.9 percent, following a 16.8 percent February decrease.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.658 on Thursday.

Recouping some of the losses in the previous session, the Japanese market is notably higher on Thursday, following the mixed cues from Wall Street overnight. The Nikkei 225 is moving up to stay a tad below the 38,400 level, with gains in exporters and financial stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 38,392.10, up 189.73 points or 0.50 percent, after touching a high of 38,395.93 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.5 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is edging down 0.4 percent, while Honda is edging up 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is flat, while Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings are losing more than 1 percent each.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding more than 1 percent.

Among the major exporters, Canon is gaining more than 1 percent, Sony is edging up 0.3 percent and Panasonic is adding more than 2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.4 percent.

Among other major gainers, Omron is skyrocketing almost 12 percent, Yamaha is soaring more than 10 percent, Orix is surging more than 8 percent, IHI is gaining more than 7 percent and Yokogawa Electric is adding more than 4 percent, while AGC and Shiseido are up almost 4 percent each. T&D Holdings and Konica Minolta are advancing more than 3 percent each, while Nintendo and Tokai Carbon are rising almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Yamato Holdings is plummeting almost 11 percent, Taiyo Yuden is plunging more than 7 percent, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is slipping almost 6 percent, Mitsubishi Motors is losing more than 5 percent and ZOZO is declining more than 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 157 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia are lower by between 0.1 and 0.5 percent each, while New Zealand South Korea and Singapore are lower by between 0.3 and 0.5 percent each. Taiwan is relatively flat. Indonesia is closed for Ascension Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, extending the lackluster performance seen during Tuesday's session. Despite the choppy trading, the Dow closed higher for the sixth straight day, reaching its best closing level in over a month.

The major averages eventually finished the day mixed. While the Dow climbed 172.13 points or 0.4 percent to 39,056.39, the S&P 500 edged down 0.03 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 5,187.67 and the Nasdaq dipped 29.80 points or 0.2 percent to 16,302.76.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices settled higher on Wednesday after data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed crude inventories rose last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for June ended higher by $0.61 or 0.78 percent at $78.99 per barrel.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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