Asian stocks record mixed trading fortune
The mainland’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) held steady at 50.1 in April, while the official services PMI fell to 53.4, from 53.7 in the preceding month. However, trading volumes are set to be light on the final trading day of the week as most markets in the region are closed for the Labor Day holiday.
Overnight, US equities suffered heavy losses, led by a 1.6 percent plunge in the Nasdaq Composite amid weak earnings from tech and biotech plays. With the blue-chip Dow and the S&P 500 index shaving off 1 percent each, all three indexes finished below their 50-day moving averages on Thursday.
Nikkei slips 0.4 percent Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined in early trade, with better-than-expected data released before the market open seemingly unable to offset the unimpressive cues from Wall Street. Consumer inflation rose 2.2 percent in March, exceeding expectations for a 2.1 percent rise and a tick up from 2.0 percent in February.
Meanwhile, household spending likely fell 10.6 percent on-year in March, below market forecasts of 12.1 percent but much higher than the 2.9 percent in February. The jobless rate fell to 3.4 percent, a tick lower than February’s 3.5 percent. Consumer electronics giant Sony retreated 2.3 percent despite a bullish announcement late Thursday that it expects operating profit to more than quadruple this year.
Honda Motor bucked the downtrend, up 1.5 percent, possibly on bargain hunting or short-covering. The stock plummeted 6.7 percent in the previous session, a reaction to Tuesday’s news that it’s profit for the fiscal fourth quarter slumped 43 percent from a year ago.
On Thursday, the Tokyo bourse dived 2.7 percent, chalking up its biggest loss in four months, as the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) decision not to step up on easing worsened investor sentiment that was already dented by a less-than-stellar first-quarter growth report from the US. ASX adds 0.2 percent Australia’s S&P ASX 200 index rebounded into the black an hour into trade, on course to break a three-day losing streak, as investors looked ahead to the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) meeting next week.
A turn of tide in the banking and mining sectors provided the bourse with positive support; Westpac led gains with a rise of 0.4 percent, while Australia and New Zealand Banking, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank ticked up 0.2 percent each.
The four major lenders have been on a downtrend as analysts expect first-half earnings due next week to reflect a slowdown. Fortescue Metals surged 6 percent, while BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto climbed 1.5 and 2.2 percent each. Oil-related counters also started the day on a positive note; Santos led gains with a 1.5 percent rise as US crude oil futures held steady around $59.70 a barrel in quiet trade. NZX 50 sheds 0.3 percent New Zealand shares notched down, a day after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) kept interest rates steady as expected.
The New Zealand dollar extended losses, slipping 0.2 percent to trade at 0.7600 against the greenback.
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