Asian Markets Mixed In Thin Trading

Asian stock markets are trading mixed in thin year-end trading session on Friday, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street as traders continue to weigh the likely impact of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus on the global economic recovery. Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday.

With early indications that the Omicron variant causes milder symptoms, traders seem optimistic the new strain will not derail the economic recovery. Trading activity is also somewhat subdued as some traders looked to get a head start on New Year’s festivities.

The Australian stock market is notably lower in a shortened final trading session of the year on Friday, snapping the six-session winning streak, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 above the 7,400 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders are booing profits after the recent string of gains. Trading activity remained somewhat subdued as some traders looked to get a head start on New Year’s festivities.

Meanwhile, traders remain concerned over the rising domestic Covid-19 cases. New South Wales continues to hit new daily records of 21,151 new cases and six deaths on Thursday. Victoria reported a new daily record of 5,919 new cases and seven deaths. Queensland recorded 2,222 new cases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 68.80 points or 0.92 percent to the day’s low of 7,444.60. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 64.50 points or 0.82 percent to 7,779.20. Australian markets ended slightly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto is edging up 0.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 1 percent, while OZ Minerals and BHP Group are losing almost 1 percent each. Mineral Resources is declining almost 2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Petroleum is losing more than 1 percent, Origin Energy is down almost 1 percent and Santos is edging down 0.2 percent, while Beach energy is edging up 0.4 percent.

Among tech stocks, Appen, WiseTech Global and Xero are losing more than 1 percent each, while Afterpay is gaining almost 1 percent and Zip is adding more than 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac is edging down 0.5 percent National Australia Bank is declining more than 1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are losing almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are higher as gold prices climbed overnight. Resolute Mining is surging almost 7 percent, Northern Star Resources is adding almost 3 percent and Gold Road Resources is up more than 1 percent, while Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are gaining almost 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.725 on Friday.

The Japanese stock market is closed for New Year’s Day holiday on Friday. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Thursday.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 115 yen-range on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Indonesia are lower by between 0.1 and 0.4 percent each. Hong Kong is surging 1.7 percent, while China and Singapore are up 0.5 and 0.3 percent, respectively. Markets in South Korea and Taiwan are closed for holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks came under pressure going into the close of trading on Thursday after seeing modest strength for much of the trading session. The major averages pulled back well off their best levels of the day and into negative territory.

The major averages all finished the day moderately below the unchanged line. The Dow dipped 90.55 points or 0.3 percent to 36,398.08, the Nasdaq edged down 24.65 points or 0.2 percent to 15,471.56 and the S&P 500 slipped 14.33 points or 0.3 percent to 4,778.73.

The major European markets also turned mixed 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 both crept up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled higher Thursday, aided by data showing increased demand for energy in the U.S. and a larger than expected drop in U.S. crude stockpiles last week. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February delivery rose $0.43 or 0.6 percent to $76.99 a barrel, closing higher for the seventh consecutive session.

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