Asian Markets Mostly Lower

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Monday despite the record closing highs on Wall Street Friday amid continued optimism that the U.S. and China have reached an agreement on phase one trade deal, which has eliminated considerable uncertainty for the markets. Trading volumes are subdued in Asian markets ahead of the Christmas holiday break later this week.

The Australian market is declining with stocks lower across the board. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 25.60 points or 0.38 percent to 6,790.70, after touching a low of 6,787.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 24.80 points or 0.36 percent to 6,899.60. Australian stocks closed lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto and BHP are declining more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is down almost 1 percent.

Retiring BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie will exit the mining giant three months earlier than planned, on March 31, as his handover to successor Mike Henry progresses ahead of schedule.

Gold miners are also weak after gold prices edged lower Friday. Newcrest Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are declining after crude oil prices fell on Friday. Oil Search is lower by 0.3 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are down 0.2 percent each.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.4 percent, while Westpac Banking is adding 0.2 percent.

Vocus Group has settled a A$35 million class action lawsuit filed by Slater and Gordon on behalf of Vocus shareholders who accused the company of providing "misleading" full-year profit guidance. Shares of the Dodo and iPrimus brand owner are adding 0.3 percent.

On the economic front, the Reserve Bank of Australia said private sector credit in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent on month in November. That was unchanged from the October reading, but missed forecasts for an increase of 0.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6898, compared to $0.6889 on Friday.

The Japanese market is higher with modest gains following the record closing highs on Wall Street Friday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 45.01 points or 0.19 percent to 23,861.64, after touching a high of 23,923.09 in early trades. Japanese shares edged lower on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is adding 0.2 percent, while Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is higher by 0.5 percent and Tokyo Electron is rising 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major exporters are mostly lower despite a slightly weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is declining almost 1 percent, Panasonic is lower by 0.3 percent and Canon is edging down 0.1 percent, while Sony is advancing almost 1 percent.

Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor is advancing almost 1 percent, while Honda Motor is declining 0.6 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are lower by more than 1 percent each after crude oil prices declined on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, Z Holdings is gaining almost 4 percent and Daiichi Sankyo is rising more than 3 percent. Olympus Corp., Nikon Corp. and Kyowa Kirin are all higher by more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Nippon Sheet Glass is losing more than 6 percent and Mitsui E&S is lower by almost 3 percent. JGC Holdings, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Oji Holdings and Toho Zinc are all declining more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will release October numbers for its all industry activity index as well as final October figures for its leading and coincident indexes today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed at new record closing highs on Friday as traders continued to wait to hear the details of the U.S.-China phase one trade deal, but the news of the deal has still helped eliminate some of the uncertainty hanging over the markets. Signs the U.S. economy continued to perform well despite the trade war has also generated some optimism growth could accelerate after the deal is enacted.

The Dow rose 78.13 points or 0.3 percent to 28,455.09, the Nasdaq climbed 37.74 points or 0.4 percent to 8,924.96 and the S&P 500 advanced 15.85 points or 0.5 percent to 3,221.22.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both advanced by 0.8 percent.

Crude oil prices declined sharply on Friday as data from Baker Hughes showed a sharp increase in rig count in the U.S. WTI crude for February ended down $0.74 or 1.2 percent at $60.44 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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