Asian Markets Mostly Higher

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Friday after sharp losses in the previous session and as investors shrugged off the weak cues overnight from Wall Street following the release of worse-than-expected weekly jobless claims data. Expectations of more stimulus measures to aid a global economic recovery boosted sentiment.

The Australian market has pared gains after opening higher despite the weak cues from Wall Street. Investors remained cautious amid the rising number of coronavirus cases in Victoria.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 5.50 points or 0.09 percent to 6,016.40, after rising to a high of 6,042.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 3.50 points or 0.06 percent to 6,126.50. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Thursday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is declining more than 1 percent and BHP Group is down 0.6 percent, while Fortescue Metals is advancing more than 1 percent.

Rio Tinto reported a 1.5 percent increase in iron-ore shipments for the second quarter and said it is on track to meet its fiscal 2020 iron ore shipments outlook.

Gold miners are lower after gold prices slipped overnight. Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are lower by more than 1 percent each.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent and Santos is adding 0.6 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is lower by 0.6 percent after crude oil declined more than 1 percent overnight.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent, while Westpac is edging up 0.1 percent.

BlueScope Steel said it now expects earnings for the second half of the year to be about A$260 million. The company had earlier projected earnings for the period of A$302.4 million, but withdrew the guidance in March amid the uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic. The steel maker's shares are losing more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6979, compared to $0.6992 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is little changed after opening higher despite the weak cues overnight from Wall Street.

Worries about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Tokyo weighed on sentiment. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported an all-time high of 286 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 3.59 points or 0.02 percent to 22,773.95, after rising to a high of 22,857.82 earlier. Japanese shares declined on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing more than 1 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining 1 percent.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is lower by 1 percent and Canon is down almost 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is rising 0.6 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.4 percent.

In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing 0.5 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.5 percent and Honda is down almost 1 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is rising almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining 0.4 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 0.3 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Hitachi is rising more than 4 percent, while Eisai Co. and Screen Holdings are higher by more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, DIC Corp. and Nippon Paper Industries are losing almost 5 percent each, while Amada Co. and Sumitomo Realty & Development are lower by more than 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong are also higher, while Taiwan and Indonesia are lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday after a Labor Department report showed that the decline in first-time claims for unemployment benefits nearly ground to a halt last week. The negative sentiment was partly offset by a report from the Commerce Department showing another substantial increase in retail sales in June, although the data was seen as old news as some states roll back their reopening plans due to a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Dow fell 135.39 points or 0.5 percent to 26,734.71, the Nasdaq slid 76.66 points or 0.7 percent to 10,473.83, and the S&P 500 dipped 10.99 points or 0.3 percent to 3,215.57.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday on worries about the outlook for near-term energy demand and the latest decision by OPEC+ to start tapering production cuts beginning next month. WTI crude for August ended down $0.45 or about 1.1 percent at $40.75 a 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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