Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades



Asian stock markets are mixed on Friday amid cautious trades following the negative cues overnight from Wall Street. Worries about U.S.-China tensions eased slightly after a report from the Wall Street Journal said China's chief trade negotiator has invited his American counterparts to Beijing for a new round of face-to-face talks.


Citing people briefed on the matter, the WSJ reported that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He extended the invitation to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during a phone call late last week.


The Australian market is rebounding after two straight days of losses.


The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is advancing 34.70 points or 0.52 percent to 6,707.60, after rising to a high of 6,711.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 35.60 points or 0.53 percent to 6,813.30. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Thursday.

The major miners are higher. Fortescue Metals is rising almost 3 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP are advancing more than 1 percent each.


Oil stocks are rebounding after crude oil prices rose overnight. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are higher by more than 1 percent, while Santos is adding almost 1 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is adding 0.6 percent, while Newcrest Mining is declining 0.6 percent after gold prices declined overnight.



In the banking space, Westpac is losing more than 1 percent, ANZ Banking is declining almost 1 percent, National Australia Bank is lower by 0.5 percent and Commonwealth Bank is down 0.2 percent.


Law firm Slater and Gordon announced class action lawsuits against ANZ and Westpac for selling "junk" insurance policies to unsuspecting customers.


The Australia Competition and Consumer Commission or ACCC said it proposes to approve the Qantas Airways loyalty tie-up with BP petrol stations, which was announced in September, despite some concerns over the sharing of customers' data between the two companies. Shares of Qantas are higher by almost 1 percent.


Mayne Pharma's shares are losing more than 11 percent after the drug maker reported that its gross profit for the first four months of the year dropped 33 percent and revenue declined 16 percent compared to the year-ago period.


In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Friday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6788, compared to $0.6799 on Thursday.


The Japanese market is advancing following three straight days of losses.


The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 144.74 points or 0.63 percent to 23,183.32, off a high of 23,185.95 earlier. Japanese shares hit a three-week low on Thursday.


Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is edging down 0.1 percent.


The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are higher by more than 1 percent each, while Canon is adding 0.4 percent. Panasonic is declining almost 1 percent.


Panasonic said it will end all production of liquid crystal display panels by 2021 amid stiff competition from foreign rivals.


In the tech space, Advantest is rising almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding more than 1 percent. Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor are rising 0.6 percent each.


In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is gaining more than 2 percent and Inpex is advancing more than 1 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.


Among the major gainers, Z Holdings is rising almost 4 percent and Asahi Kasei is higher by almost 3 percent.



On the flip side, Nippon Light Metal and Rakuten are lower by almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that overall consumer prices in Japan were up 0.2 percent on year in October. That was unchanged from the September reading, although it was shy of estimates for a gain of 0.3 percent.

Core consumer prices, which exclude volatile food prices, rose an annual 0.4 percent. That was in line with expectations and up from 0.3 percent in the previous month.

Japan also will see preliminary November figures for its manufacturing, services and composite PMIs today.


In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 108 yen-range on Friday.

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


On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Thursday, partly reflecting renewed uncertainty about the U.S. and China finalizing a phase one trade deal due to tensions over Hong Kong. Meanwhile, a report from the Wall Street Journal said China's chief trade negotiator has invited his American counterparts to Beijing for a new round of face-to-face talks.

The Dow slipped 54.80 points or 0.2 percent to 27,766.29, the Nasdaq dipped 20.52 points or 0.2 percent to 8,506.21 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.92 points or 0.2 percent to 3,103.54.


The major European markets also moved to the downside on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both edged down by 0.2 percent.


Crude oil prices rebounded from early losses and moved higher to hit their best levels in almost two months on Thursday, reacting to reports that OPEC and its allies will likely extend output cuts beyond March 2020. WTI crude for January ended up $1.57 or about 2.8 percent at $58.58 a barrel.




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