Asian Markets Mostly Lower

Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on a weak trading day in the region on Monday, following the firmly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday, as traders continue to express concerns that the surge coronavirus cases in the region and other countries, particularly in the U.S., could dent the pace of global economic recovery from the pandemic. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Friday.

The mood is also cautious with investors looking ahead to the outcome of the highly anticipated monetary policy meeting of the Federal Reserve on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Fed is widely expected to leave monetary policy unchanged but could address the outlook for its asset purchase program. Traders are likely to pay close attention to the wording of the post-meeting statement.

The Australian stock market is sharply lower on Monday, extending the losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 above the 7,400 level, following the firmly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday, with weakness in stocks across most sectors as iron ore and crude oil prices continue to tumble.

The precarious domestic coronavirus situation, primarily in New South Wales and Victoria, is also weighing in investor sentiment. NSW reported 935 new locally acquired cases and four deaths on Sunday. Victoria also recorded 567 new locally acquired cases and one death, with the total active cases of COVID-19 across Victoria standing at 5,675.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 164.70 points or 2.20 percent to 7,239.00, after hitting a low of 7,234.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 176.00 points or 2.29 percent to 7,526.90. Australian stocks closed notably lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and OZ Minerals are losing more than 3.5 percent each, while Mineral Resources and Fortescue Metals are declining more than 4 percent each. Rio Tinto is down more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower, with Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum losing almost 2 percent each, while Santos down more than 2 percent. Beach energy is declining almost 1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Appen and WiseTech Global are losing more than 2 percent each, while Afterpay is down almost 1 percent and Xero is declining more than 3 percent.

Gold miners are lower. Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources are losing almost 2 percent each, while Newcrest Mining is down almost 1 percent, Gold Road Resources is declining almost 3 percent and Resolute Mining is lower by more than 4 percent.

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

In other news, shares in Transurban Group are halted as the toll road giant said will raise $4.22 billion of new equity to fund its full acquisition (49 percent) of Sydney’s WestConnex toll road from the NSW government for $11.1 billion.

Shares in AusNet are skyrocketing more than 18 percent after the electricity operator said it will open its books to Canadian infrastructure giant Brookfield after receiving a sweetened takeover offer of $2.50 per share in stock or $9.6 billion.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.723 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is closed on account of Aged Day on Monday. Japanese stocks closed modestly higher on Friday as signs of falling new virus cases in the country offered some support.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 109 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is plummeting 4.0 percent, while New Zealand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are lower by between 0.3 and 0.7 percent each. The South Korean market is closed until Wednesday on account of Chuseok Festival, while markets in Taiwan and China are closed until Tuesday for Mid-Autumn Festival.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a notable move to the downside during trading on Friday following the narrowly mixed close seen in the previous session. The major averages all slid firmly into negative territory after ending Thursday’s trading on opposite sides of the unchanged line.

The major averages moved roughly sideways in afternoon trading, ending the day firmly in the red. The Dow fell 166.44 points or 0.5 percent to 34,584.88, the Nasdaq slumped 137.96 points or 0.9 percent to 15,043.97 and the S&P 500 slid 40.76 points or 0.9 percent to 4,432.99.

The major European markets also moved to the downside over the course of the session. While the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.8 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index slumped by 0.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled lower Friday on reports crude supply is being restored after hurricanes Ida and Nicholas had impacted production in the Gulf of Mexico. A firm dollar also led to the decline in crude oil prices. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for October fell $0.64 or 0.9 percent at $71.97 a barrel. WTI crude futures gained more than 3 percent for the week.

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