Asian Markets Mostly Lower

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are declining on Thursday with modest losses despite the positive cues from Wall Street, amid worries that tensions between the U.S. and China over Hong Kong may dampen the prospects for an interim trade deal.

Overnight, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law congressional legislation backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, despite strong objections by China.

The Australian market is rising following the gains on Wall Street. However, investors turned cautious after Trump signed into law congressional legislation backing protesters in Hong Kong, despite strong objections by China.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 23.10 points or 0.34 percent to 6,873.70, after rising to a new record high of 6,876.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 23.70 points or 0.34 percent to 6,974.30. Australian stocks closed notably higher on Wednesday.

Oil stocks are higher even as crude oil prices declined overnight. Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 1 percent, Santos is advancing 0.3 percent and Oil Search is adding 0.2 percent.

The major miners are mostly higher. BHP is adding 0.5 percent and Rio Tinto is rising 0.3 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining almost 1 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is lower by more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is declining 0.5 percent after gold prices slipped overnight.

The big four banks are mixed. ANZ Banking is declining 0.6 percent and Westpac is down 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is rising 0.2 percent and National Australia Bank is adding 0.1 percent.

Commonwealth Bank-owned insurer CommInsure has been fined $700 thousand after pleading guilty to unlawfully selling life insurance policies in unsolicited phone calls.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that private capital expenditure in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 0.2 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2019, worth A$29.413 billion. That missed expectations for a flat reading following the 0.6 percent drop in the three months prior.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6764, compared to $0.6777 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is edging lower after opening higher following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street.

Investors turned cautious after Trump signed into law congressional legislation backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The release of weak Japanese retail sales data for October also dampened sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 15.72 points or 0.07 percent to 23,422.05, after touching a high of 23,482.32 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher on Wednesday for the fourth straight session.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.1 percent and Fast Retailing is lower by 0.3 percent.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is rising more than 2 percent and Canon is adding 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining almost 1 percent and Sony is down 0.5 percent.

The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Panasonic Corp. will sell its loss-making semiconductor business to Taiwan's Nuvoton Technology.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.1 percent and Advantest is lower by 0.2 percent. Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor is up 0.2 percent while Honda Motor is declining more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is losing 0.5 percent while Inpex is edging up 0.1 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the major gainers, IHI Corp., Kyocera and Sony Financial are all rising more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Japan Steel Works is lower by 2 percent and Ebara Corp. is losing almost 2 percent.

In economic news, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that retail sales in Japan plunged a seasonally adjusted 14.4 percent on month in October. That missed expectations for a decline of 10.4 percent following the 7.2 percent increase in September.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 109 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all modestly lower, while New Zealand is advancing.

On Wall Street, stocks on Wednesday extended the upward trend seen over the past few sessions as the markets continued to benefit from optimism about a potential U.S.-China trade deal after President Donald Trump said trade talks are "going very well." The continued strength on Wall Street also came following the release of some upbeat U.S. economic data, including a Commerce Department report showing durable goods orders unexpectedly rebounded in the month of October.

The Dow rose 42.32 points or 0.2 percent to 28,164.00, the Nasdaq advanced 57.24 points or 0.7 percent to 8,705.18 and the S&P 500 climbed 13.11 points or 0.4 percent to 3,153.63.

The major European markets turned mixed over the course of the session on Wednesday. While the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index both rose by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices dipped on Wednesday after the Energy Information Administration noted an unexpected increase in crude oil inventories. WTI crude for January delivery fell $0.30 or 0.5 percent to $58.11 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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