Asian Markets Mostly Lower As U.S.-China Tensions Rise

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Monday following the sharp losses on Wall Street Friday on disappointing earnings results from online retail giant Amazon and on rising tensions between the U.S. and China over the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there was a "significant amount of evidence" linking the coronavirus to a lab in China's Wuhan region.

Crude oil prices fell in Asian trades. The markets in Japan, China and Thailand are closed for holidays.

The Australian market opened lower following the sharp losses on Wall Street Friday and on disappointing earnings results from lender Westpac. However, the market has recovered and is now modestly higher.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 31.00 points or 0.59 percent to 5,276.90, after touching a low of 5,169.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 31.20 points or 0.59 percent to 5,356.20. Australian stocks fell on Friday.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank is lower by almost 2 percent, while ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are declining more than 1 percent each.

Westpac reported a 62 percent drop in first-half net profit reflecting a hefty impairment charge due to the coronavirus outbreak, while cash earnings fell 70 percent. The lender also deferred a decision on paying an interim dividend to shareholders. The bank's shares are lower by almost 2 percent.

Insurance Australia Group maintained its fiscal 2020 guidance, but warned it saw limited scope to pay a final dividend in September due to uncertainty related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Shares of the insurer are down more than 3 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is tumbling more than 4 percent, Oil Search is down more than 3 percent and Santos is declining more than 2 percent after crude oil prices tumbled almost 8 percent in Asian trading on Monday.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is losing more than 3 percent, Rio Tinto is lower by almost 3 percent and BHP is declining more than 2 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is climbing almost 6 percent and Newcrest Mining is rising more than 4 percent after gold prices snapped a five-day losing streak to close higher on Friday.

Shares of Afterpay Touch Group are climbing more than 20 percent on news that Chinese gaming and social media company Tencent Holdings acquired a 5 percent stake in the credit provider last week.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of building permits issued in Australia in March was down a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent on month, coming in at 15,279. That follows the 5.8 percent drop in February.

On a yearly basis, building permits rose 0.2 percent - slowing from the 19.9 percent jump in the previous month.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6381, compared to $0.6460 on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is losing almost 4 percent, while Singapore, Taiwan, and Malaysia are declining more than 2 percent each. South Korea and Indonesia are lower by almost 2 percent each and New Zealand is modestly lower.

The markets in China, Japan and Thailand are closed for the Labor Day, Greenery Day and Coronation Day holidays, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Friday following weaker than expected earnings news from online retail giant Amazon and weaker than expected sales figures by conglomerate Honeywell. Apple also moved to the downside after the tech giant reported better than expected quarterly results, but declined to provide guidance amid uncertainty about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow tumbled 622.03 points or 2.6 percent to 23,723.69, the Nasdaq plunged 284.60 points or 3.2 percent to 8,604.95 and the S&P 500 slumped 81.72 points or 2.8 percent to 2,830.71.

U.K. stocks also showed a substantial move to the downside on Friday, while the other European markets were closed on Friday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled by 2.3 percent.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Friday despite persisting worries about the outlook for near-to-medium term energy demand amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. WTI crude oil for June delivery jumped $0.94 or about 5 percent to $19.78 a barrel. In Asian trades, crude oil is losing almost 8 percent to $18.25 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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