Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trades

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Monday amid worries about the rising number of coronavirus cases around the world and on caution ahead of the release of major corporate earnings results this week.

Investors also turned their focus to a European Union Summit where leaders are trying to reach an agreement over a 750 billion euro stimulus package.

The Australian market is edging lower after opening higher. Worries about the resurgence in coronavirus cases in New South Wales and Victoria weighed on sentiment. Investors also turned cautious ahead of the federal government's budget update later this week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 6.70 points or 0.11 percent to 6026.90, after rising to a high of 6,038.80 in early trades. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 4.90 points or 0.08 percent to 6,140.00. Australian stocks fluctuated before closing modestly higher on Friday.

In the oil sector, Santos is losing more than 2 percent, while Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are lower by more than 1 percent each after crude oil declined Friday.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 1.3 percent to 1.5 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is advancing more than 1 percent, Rio Tinto is adding almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 0.6 percent.

South32 said it achieved its full-year production guidance across the majority of its portfolio, but will record a full-year non-cash impairment charge of $109 million against it manganese alloy smelters at Metalloys in South Africa and TEMCO in Australia. Shares of South32 are declining more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are higher after gold prices advanced on Friday. Evolution Mining is rising more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is higher by more than 1 percent.

Eclipx Group has sold its under-performing Right2Drive business for up to A$26.5 million, after writing down its value last year. The vehicle fleet leasing company's shares are rising more than 6 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6999, compared to $0.6986 on Friday.

The Japanese market also slipped into negative territory after opening higher. Data showing that Japan's exports fell more than expected in June dampened hopes of a quick economic recovery.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 58.94 points or 0.26 percent to 22,637.48, after rising to a high of 22,788.53 in early trades. Japanese shares declined on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.1 percent and Fast Retailing is rising almost 2 percent.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Sony is adding 0.6 percent and Canon is unchanged, while Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are down 0.3 percent each.

In the financial sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing 0.6 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.5 percent.

Among automakers, Honda is declining almost 1 percent and Toyota is lower by 0.3 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is rising more than 3 percent and Advantest is down 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is losing more than 2 percent and Inpex is lower by almost 2 percent after crude oil prices declined on Friday.

Among the other major gainers, NEC Corp. and Fujitsu are rising more than 3 percent each, while Nitto Denko and Terumo Corp. are higher by almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Unitika is losing more than 4 percent, while ANA Holdings and Tokyu Corp. are lower by more than 3 percent each. Toray Industries is declining almost 3 percent.

On the economic front, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 268.824 billion yen in June. That missed expectations for a shortfall of 35.8 billion yen following the 833.4 billion yen deficit in May.

Exports were down 26.2 percent on year to 4.862 trillion yen - shy of forecasts for a decline of 24.9 percent following the 28.3 percent drop in the previous month. Imports fell an annual 14.4 percent to 5.130 trillion yen versus expectations for a fall of 16.8 percent after sinking 26.2 percent a month earlier.

Meanwhile, minutes from the Bank of Japan's monetary policy meeting on June 15 and 16 revealed members of the central bank's monetary policy board acknowledged that the country's economic situation is severe and is likely to remain that way thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The members also noted that annual inflation is hovering around 0 percent and is expected to stay that way, thanks to falling crude oil prices. The members reiterated their commitment to continue quantitative easing as long as necessary to hit the bank's 2 percent inflation target.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also lower, while Shanghai is rising more than 2 percent and Malaysia is edging higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday in a lackluster session as traders generally remained optimistic about the economic outlook, but could not ignore the troubling headlines on the coronavirus front. The U.S. reported a record 77,255 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Reflecting the widespread resurgence of the coronavirus, the University of Michigan released a report showing an unexpected deterioration in U.S. consumer sentiment in the month of July.

While the Dow dipped 62.76 points or 0.2 percent to 26,671.95, the Nasdaq climbed 29.36 points or 0.3 percent to 10,503.19 and the S&P 500 rose 9.16 points or 0.3 percent to 3,224.73.

The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on Friday. While the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index climbed by 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Friday, weighed down by concerns about the outlook for near-term energy demand due to the relentless surge in new coronavirus cases in many states in America and in several other countries across the globe. WTI crude for August declined $0.16 or about 0.4 percent to $40.59 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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