Asian markets mostly lower on fears over rising Covid cases

by Jonathan Adams
S&P ASX

The S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 50.00 points to 7,032.30, the Nikkei 225 is going below the 29,000 mark, while New Zealand is flat

Stock markets in Asia are mostly lower on Friday, as traders remain cautious amid the fears of a fresh surge in Covid cases in the region, particularly India and Japan, and the possibility of restrictions or lockdowns in certain markets. This despite the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street on upbeat labour market data and strong results from Facebook and Apple. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Thursday.

Australian stock market is lower on Friday, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,000 mark near 14-month highs, as gold miners, energy, healthcare and banking stocks are weighing down the market. The cues overnight from Wall Street were positive.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 50.00 points or 0.71 percent to 7,032.30, after hitting a low of 7,028.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 49.10 points or 0.67 percent to 7,296.90. Australian markets closed marginally higher on Thursday.

The major miners are lower. Fortescue Metals is declining nearly 1 percent, while BHP Group and Rio Tinto are down more than 1 percent each.

Among oil stocks, Woodside Petroleum is falling nearly 1 percent and Santos is inching down 0.2 percent, while Oil Search is adding nearly 1 percent. Beach energy is plunging nearly 23 percent after it downgrading guidance.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are inching down 0.3 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is inching down 0.6 percent.

Gold miners are lower after gold dropped overnight. Evolution Mining is declining more than 2 percent and Northern Star Resources is down nearly 3 percent, while Gold Road Resources and Newcrest Mining are dropping nearly 2 percent each. Resolute Mining is down more than 1 percent.

In economic news, private sector credit in Australia was up 0.4 percent on month in March, the Reserve Bank of Australia said on Friday – after gaining 0.2 percent in February. On a yearly basis, private sector credit jumped 1.0 percent after adding 1.6 percent in the previous month.

Separately, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said final demand producer prices were up 0.4 percent on quarter in the first quarter of 2021, slowing from 0.5 percent in the previous three months. On a yearly basis, producer prices gained 1.0 percent – slowing from 1.6 percent in the three months prior.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.778 on Friday.

In Japan, the stock market is lower on Friday, returning from Thursday’s public holiday, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 going below the 29,000 mark, as traders remain cautious amid the continuing



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