Asian Markets Trade Mostly Lower

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Monday, despite the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, as US data showing much stronger than expected job growth in January and an improvement in consumer sentiment further dimmed the possibility of an interest rate cut in March. Mining and energy stocks were down amid weaker commodity prices. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Friday.

The Australian stock market is currently trading significantly lower on Monday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 falling to near the 7,600.00 level, despite the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, with losses across most sectors led by miners and energy stocks amid weaker commodity prices.

Traders also remain cautious ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy decision on Tuesday, where the RBA is widely expected to hold interest rates steady.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 75.10 points or 0.98 percent to 7,624.30, after hitting a low of 7,593.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 77.50 points or 0.98 percent to 7,854.10. Australian stocks closed sharply higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are losing more than 2 percent each, while Mineral Resources is declining more than 4 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Beach energy is losing almost 2 percent, while Origin Energy, Santos and Woodside Energy are declining almost 1 percent each. Among tech stocks, Xero is losing almost 2 percent, Appen is declining almost 4 percent and Zip is slipping more than 2 percent, while WiseTech Global is gaining almost 1 percent and Afterpay owner Block is edging up 0.4 percent.

Gold miners are lower. Gold Road Resources and Northern Star Resources are declining almost 4 percent each, while Evolution Mining is losing more than 3 percent and Newmont is slipping almost 5 percent and Resolute Mining is sliding almost 8 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are losing more than 1 percent each, while Westpac and National Australia Bank are declining almost 1 percent each.

In other news, shares in Silver Lake Resources tumbled almost 14 percent on news the gold miner was merging with Red 5 in a scheme of arrangement.

In economic news, the services sector in Australia continued to contract in January, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Judo Bank showed on Monday with a services PMI score of 49.1. That's up from 47.1 in December, although it remains beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Meanwhile, Australia posted a merchandise trade surplus of A$10.959 billion in December, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Monday. That beat forecasts for a surplus of A$10.510 billion following the upwardly revised A$11.764 billion surplus in November (originally A$11.437 billion).

Exports were up A$847 million or 1.8 percent on month to A$47.125 billion after rising 1.7 percent in the previous month. Imports climbed A$1.652 billion or 4.8 percent on month to A$36,165 billion a month earlier.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.650 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is trading notably higher on Monday, extending the gains in the previous session. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 is moving well above the 36,300 level, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street cues on Friday, with gains in index heavyweights and financial stocks partially offset by weakness in technology stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 36,358.21, up 200.19 points or 0.55 percent, after touching a high of 36,452.62 earlier. Japanese shares ended modestly higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 2 percent and Toyota is adding almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is losing more than 4 percent, Advantest is declining almost 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is down almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is advancing more than 2 percent and Mizuho Financial is adding almost 3 percent.

The major exporters are higher. Canon is gaining more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is adding almost 1 percent, Panasonic is surging 6.5 percent and Sony is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among other major gainers, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings is skyrocketing almost 10 percent, Seiko Epson is soaring more than 7 percent, while JTEKT, Pacific Metals and NEXON are surging almost 7 percent each. Fujitsu is gaining more than 6 percent and J. Front Retailing is adding almost 5 percent, while M3, CyberAgent and Denso are advancing more than 4 percent each. Mazda Motor, Chiba Bank, NTN and Kyocera are up almost 4 percent each.

Conversely, Sumitomo Chemical is plummeting more than 10 percent, Minebea Mitsumi is losing almost 6 percent, Toyota Tsusho is declining almost 4 percent and KDDI is down almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the service sector in Japan continued to expand in January, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed on Monday with a services PMI score of 53.1. That's up from 51.5 in December, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid-148 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, China, Singapore and South Korea are lower by between 1.5 and 2.0 percent each, while New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are lower by between 0.1 and 0.4 percent each. Malaysia and Indonesia are relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the trading day on Friday, extending the recovery rally seen during trading Thursday's session. The major averages more than offset the steep drop seen on Wednesday, with the Dow and the S&P 500 reaching new record closing highs.

The major averages pulled back off their best levels going into the close but remained in positive territory. The Nasdaq surged 267.31 points or 1.7 percent to 15,628.95, the S&P 500 jumped 52.42 points or 1.1 percent to 4,958.61 and the S&P 500 climbed 134.58 points or 0.4 percent to 38,654.42.

Meanwhile, the major European markets finished the day mixed. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index inched up 0.1 percent and the German DAX Index climbed 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices fell sharply on Friday as hopes of an early rate cut by the Federal Reserve faded after data showed a bigger than expected increase in U.S. non-farm payroll employment in January. The dollar's sharp uptick after the jobs data also weighed on oil prices. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended down $1.54 or about 2.1 percent at $72.28 a barrel. The contract shed more than 7 percent in the week.

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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