Asian Markets In Negative Territory On Coronavirus Concerns

Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Friday following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street amid worries about the rising number of coronavirus infections in Beijing as well as outside China and its impact on the global economy. More companies are issuing fresh warnings about the negative impact of the coronavirus on their earnings.

China confirmed 889 new cases of the coronavirus infections as of Thursday. Meanwhile, South Korea reported 52 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, raising the total number of infections in that country to 156.

The Australian market is declining after recent strong gains and following the negative cues from Wall Street. Weak local corporate earnings results also dampened sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 14.70 points or 0.21 percent to 7,147.80, after touching a low of 7,135.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 16.30 points or 0.22 percent to 7,238.90. Australian markets reached new record highs before ending off their best levels.

The major miners are weak. Fortescue Metals is declining more than 1 percent, BHP is lower by 0.3 percent and Rio Tinto is edging down 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly lower despite an increase in crude oil prices overnight. Oil Search is lower by 0.4 percent and Santos is down 0.3 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.5 percent.

Gold miners are mixed even as gold prices gained overnight for a sixth straight session overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising 0.5 percent, while Evolution Mining is down 0.1 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking and Westpac are higher by 0.5 percent each and Commonwealth Bank is rising 0.3 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging down 0.1 percent.

Inghams reported a 69 percent drop in first-half profit and will pay a reduced interim dividend. The poultry group’s shares are lower by more than 1 percent.

Ardent Leisure Group reported a wider net loss for the half year despite a 16 percent increase in revenues, and said it will not pay an interim dividend. The theme parks operator’s shares are losing more than 6 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6616, compared to $0.6647 on Thursday.

The Japanese market is edging higher in choppy trade following the negative cues from Wall Street. Investors remained cautious ahead of the release of a raft of local economic data later today.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 17.26 points or 0.07 percent to 23,496.41, after touching a low of 23,420.23 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed higher on Thursday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is rising almost 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining 0.6 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is adding 0.5 percent, while Tokyo Electron is down 0.4 percent.

The major exporters are mixed on a weaker yen. Panasonic is adding 0.6 percent and Sony is edging up 0.1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is unchanged and Canon is edging down 0.1 percent.

Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor is higher by more than 1 percent and Honda Motor is advancing almost 1 percent. In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is declining 0.7 percent, while Inpex is adding 0.2 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

Among the major gainers, Z Holdings and Rakuten are rising more than 4 percent each, while Mitsui Mining & Smelting and Sumco Corp. are higher by almost 4 percent each.

Conversely, Oji Holdings is losing more than 2 percent and Sumitomo Realty & Development is lower by almost 2 percent.

In economic news, Japan is today scheduled to release January figures for consumer prices, February readings for the manufacturing PMI from Jibun Bank, and the services and composite PMIs from Nikkei. Japan also will see December data for the all industry activity index.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 112 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea and Hong Kong are losing more than 1 percent each, while Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are all modestly lower. Shanghai and New Zealand are edging lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday after regaining some ground following a late-morning sell-off. Selling pressure waned shortly after the start of trading as traders also reacted to the People’s Bank of China’s widely expected move to cut its benchmark one-year loan prime rate by 10 basis points. The late-morning pullback was partly attributed to renewed concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, although it was not immediately clear what sparked the sell-off.

The Dow dropped 128.05 points or 0.4 percent to 29,219.98, the Nasdaq slid 66.21 points or 0.7 percent to 9,750.96 and the S&P 500 fell 12.92 points or 0.4 percent to 3,373.23.

The major European markets all moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index slid by 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose on Thursday after official data showed a smaller than expected increase in U.S. crude inventories in the week ended February 14th. WTI crude for March ended up $0.49 or about 0.9 percent at $53.78 a barrel, on the expiration day.

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