Asian Markets Mostly Lower

(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Friday in the absence of fresh cues from Wall Street, which was closed overnight for a holiday, and on worries about the continued surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe.

Investors also turned cautious following news that British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca might conduct an additional global trial to evaluate the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate as questions were raised about the vaccine’s trial results.

The Australian market is extending losses from the previous session. Worries about the continued surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. and Europe weighed on the market even as the Australian state of Victoria officially eliminated COVID-19, having reported no virus cases for 28 days.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 29.30 points or 0.44 percent to 6,607.10, after falling to a low of 6,606.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 29.00 points or 0.42 percent to 6,819.80. Australian stocks ended a three-day winning streak to close lower on Thursday.

The big four banks – ANZ Banking, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank – are lower in a range of 0.3 percent to 1.1 percent.

Oil stocks are declining after crude oil prices fell more than 1 percent in Asian trading on Friday. Oil Search is losing more than 3 percent, while Santos and Woodside Petroleum are lower by more than 1 percent each.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is declining more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.5 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are higher. Evolution Mining is rising more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is higher by 0.6 percent.

The Japanese market is modestly lower in choppy trading in the absence of fresh cues from Wall Street, which was closed overnight for a holiday.

Worries about the surge in coronavirus cases in Japan and news that AstraZeneca might conduct an additional global trial to evaluate the efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine weighed on the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 39.81 points or 0.15 percent to 26,497.50, after touching a high of 26,647.18 earlier. The Japanese market closed at a fresh 29 year-high on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 3 percent, while Fast Retailing is down 0.3 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is up 0.1 percent and Advantest is unchanged.

The major exporters are mostly higher despite a stronger yen. Sony is rising 0.6 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.3 percent and Panasonic is up 0.2 percent, while Canon is lower by 0.5 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are losing more than 1 percent each. Among automakers, Honda is declining more than 1 percent and Toyota is down almost 1 percent.

Property developer Mitsui Fudosan is planning a $1 billion takeover bid for ballpark and hotel operator Tokyo Dome Corp., according to reports. Shares of Mitsui Fudosan are rising more than 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Tokyo Tatemono is gaining almost 8 percent and Daiichi Sankyo is rising more than 4 percent. Tokyu Fudosan, Furukawa Electric, Nippon Light Metal Holdings and Toho Zinc are all higher by more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Nexon Co. is losing more than 3 percent and Casio Computer is lower by more than 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 104 yen-range on Friday.

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

The U.S. stock markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

The major European markets closed somewhat flat on Thursday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 slid 0.4 percent, while Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 edged down by 0.02 percent and 0.08 percent, respectively.

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