CANBERA (DPA-AFX) – Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Thursday, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as worries about the ongoing war in Ukraine with related spike in price of crude oil and concerns about inflation weighed on market sentiment. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Wednesday.
U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to impose further sanctions on Russia during his trip to Europe this week. Biden is scheduled to meet other NATO allies in Brussels on Thursday to project a roadmap for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing slaughter of Ukrainians by Russia. Biden is also set to meet European Union leaders to discuss an embargo on Russian oil by EU members.
The Australian stock market is slightly higher after opening lower on Thursday, extending the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving just below the 7,400 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, aided by gains from materials, mining and energy stocks on higher commodity prices. Financial and technology stocks are lower as investors chose to take some profits.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 1.90 points or 0.03 percent to 7,379.80, after touching a high of 7,391.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 1.7 points or 0.02 percent to 7,663.30. Australian markets ended modestly higher on Wednesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are gaining almost 2 percent each, while Mineral Resources is advancing more than 2 percent. Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.4 percent and OZ Minerals is flat.
Oil stocks are higher. Santos and Origin Energy are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is adding 2.5 percent and Beach Energy is up almost 2 percent.
Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are edging down 0.2 to 0.3 percent each, while ANZ Banking is losing almost 1 percent.
NAB has launched another buy-back worth $2.5 billion, which will commence after the bank’s half-year results on May 5, subject to market conditions.
In the tech space, Appen is losing almost 1 percent , WiseTech Global is slipping almost 2 percent, Block is sliding more than 3 percent, Zip is down more than 4 percent and Xero is declining more than 2 percent.
Gold miners are mostly lower. Northern Star Resources, Resolute Mining and Newcrest Mining are gaining more than 3 percent each, while Gold Road Resources is adding more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is up more than 1 percent.
In other news, shares in JB Hi-Fi are gaining 3.5 percent after the white goods retailer told investors its sales for the third quarter to date had grown into the double digits, continuing its strong start to the new year.
In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in March, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from S&P Global showed on Thursday with a manufacturing PMI score of 57.3. That’s up from 57.0 in February and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the services PMI climbed to 57.9 from 57.4 and the composite PMI improved to 57.1 from 56.6.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.749 on Thursday.
The Japanese stock market is sharply lower on Thursday, snapping a seven-session winning streak, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 falling below the 27,700 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders booked profits after the recent winning streak with stocks slipping across all sectors.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,727.76, down 312.40 points or 1.11 percent, after touching a high of 27,807.12 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply higher on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.4 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing more than 2 percent, while Toyota is advancing almost 1 percent after it announced plans for a 100 billion yen share buyback.
In the tech space, Advantest is losing more than 2 percent, Tokyo Electron is down almost 1 percent and Screen Holdings is declining more than 1 percent.
In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is losing almost 2 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining almost 1 percent.
The major exporters are higher. Sony is losing almost 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.3 percent, Panasonic is slipping almost 3 percent and Canon is edging down 0.5 percent.
Among the other major losers, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is plunging more than 8 percent, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Nippon Yusen K.K. are sliding almost 7 percent each. Daiwa Securities is slipping more than 4 percent, while NEXON and Kubota are losing almost 4 percent each. Obayashi, Shimizu, Recruit Holdings, Kikkoman, Aeon, M3, Z Holdings and Omron are all down almost 3 percent each.
Conversely, Pacific Metals is soaring almost 8 percent, while Toho Zinc and Inpex are gaining more than 3 percent each.
In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in March, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed on Thursday with a manufacturing PMI score of 53.2. That’s up from 52.7 in February and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the services PMI climbed to 48.7 from 44.2 and the composite PMI improved to 49.3 from 45.8.
Members of the Bank of Japan’s Monetary Policy Board said that Japan’s economic recovery is continuing at a satisfactory pace in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, minutes from the bank’s January 17-18 meeting revealed on Thursday. Corporate profits and business sentiment continue to improve, the minutes showed, although employment and income remain weak. To that end, the board said it finds it appropriate to maintain its current monetary easing and support stability in the financial markets.
At the meeting, the BoJ voted 8-1 to maintain its monetary policy stimulus unchanged at -0.1 percent on current accounts that financial institutions maintain at the central bank. It also lifted its inflation forecast for the next fiscal year, citing a rise in commodity prices.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 121 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Malaysia are lower by between 0.2 and 0.8 percent each, while Singapore and Indonesia are up 0.3 and 0.6 percent, respectively
On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant move back to the downside during trading on Wednesday following the strong upward move seen in the previous session. With the pullback on the day, the major averages largely offset yesterday’s gains.
The major averages ended the session at their worst levels of the day. The Dow plunged 448.96 points or 1.3 percent to 34,358.50, the Nasdaq tumbled 186.21 points or 1.3 percent to 13,922.60 and the S&P 500 slumped 55.37 points or 1.2 percent to 4,456.24.
The major European markets also moved mostly lower on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures settled at over two-week highs on Wednesday, lifted by data showing a drop in U.S. crude inventories and worries about supply disruptions due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended higher by $5.66 or 5.2 percent at $114.93 a barrel.