(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Friday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street after European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted that decisions about the future of the ECB’s massive stimulus may be decided in October. Investors are cautious as they await the release of China’s trade data for August later in the day.
The Australian market is modestly lower. In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 14.10 points or 0.25 percent to 5,675.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is losing 13.10 points or 0.23 percent to 5,740.70.
In the banking sector, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent.
Australia’s financial sector regulator has appointed a three-member panel to inquire into Commonwealth Bank’s governance, culture and accountability.
Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices edged lower overnight. Woodside Petroleum is losing almost 1 percent, while Santos and Oil Search are down 0.3 percent each.
In the mining space, BHP Billiton is adding 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto is rising almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining almost 1 percent.
Gold miners are mixed despite higher gold prices overnight. Newcrest Mining is declining almost 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is rising more than 1 percent.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of home loans in Australia climbed a seasonally adjusted 2.9 percent on month in July, coming in at 56.464. That beat forecasts for an increase of 1.0 percent following the 0.5 percent gain in June.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is sharply higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.8046, up from US$0.7985 on Thursday.
The Japanese market is declining following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street and as investors digested a raft of local economic data, including Japan’s second-quarter GDP figures that were revised downwards.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 50.26 points or 0.26 percent to 19,346.26, off a low of 19,294.80 earlier.
The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Canon is down 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is losing 0.6 percent and Panasonic is declining 0.5 percent, while Sony is advancing 1 percent.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple is now being wooed by all three bidding groups that are vying for Toshiba’s flash memory unit. This includes a consortium having Western Digital as a member. Shares of Toshiba are adding 0.6 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.3 percent, while Honda is down 0.2 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are lower by 0.4 percent each.
In the oil space, Inpex is declining 0.5 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is lower by almost 1 percent after crude oil prices edged lower overnight.
Among the other major gainers, Chughai Pharmaceutical and Tokai Carbon are rising almost 3 percent each, while Dentsu is advancing more than 2 percent. On the flip side, Yamato Holdings and Olympus are losing almost 3 percent each.
In economic news, the Cabinet Office said that Japan’s gross domestic product was revised down to 0.6 percent on quarter in the second quarter of 2017. That missed forecasts for 0.7 percent and was down from the August 13 preliminary reading that suggested a gain of 1.0 percent. GDP was up 0.4 percent on quarter in the previous three months.
The Ministry of Finance said that Japan had a current account surplus of 2,320.0 billion yen in July, up 19.6 percent on year. The headline figure topped expectations for a surplus of 2,030.1 billion yen and was up from the 934.6 billion yen surplus in June.
The trade surplus came in at 566.6 billion yen, exceeding expectations for 518.0 billion yen and up from 518.5 billion yen in the previous month.
The Bank of Japan said that overall bank lending in Japan was up 3.2 percent on year in August, coming in at 515.802 trillion yen. That was shy of expectations for 3.3 percent, which would have been unchanged from the July reading.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 108 yen-range on Friday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher, while South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are edging lower.
On Wall Street, stocks closed flat in choppy trading on Thursday after the European Central Bank kept interest rates unchanged and confirmed that its net asset purchases are intended to run at the current monthly pace of 60 billion euros until the end of December, or beyond, if necessary.
While the Nasdaq inched up 4.55 points or 0.1 percent to 6,397.87, the Dow dipped 22.86 points or 0.1 percent to 21,784.78 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.44 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,465.10.
The major European markets all moved to the upside on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures inched lower Thursday, but held above $49 a barrel after government data confirmed a large build in U.S. oil inventories. October WTI oil edged down $0.07 or 0.1 percent to settle at $49.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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