Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Thursday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, as investors delve over the potential impact of the fast spreading Omicron Coronavirus variant. They also seem reluctant to continue making significant moves as the virus spreads rapidly across more countries, with some implementing lockdowns and strict restrictions. Asian markets closed mixed on Wednesday.
While Omicron has contributed to a surge in new coronavirus cases around the world, traders seem optimistic that the milder symptoms associated with the new strain will not lead to a significant economic slowdown.
The Australian stock market is slightly lower in choppy trading on Thursday, after five straight sessions of gains, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying just above the 7,500 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders fret over the surge in the country’s Covid-19 infections due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Weakness in technology stocks were partially offset by strength in materials and mining stocks.
Domestically, New South Wales reported a new daily record of 12,226 new cases and one death on Wednesday. Victoria reported a new daily record of 5,137 new cases and 13 deaths. Queensland recorded 2,222 new cases.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 6.00 points or 0.08 percent to 7,503.80, after hitting a low of 7,499.90 and a high of 7,520.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 8.20 points or 0.11 percent to 7,832.10. Australian markets ended sharply higher on Wednesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group and Mineral Resources are gaining almost 2 percent each, while OZ Minerals is adding almost 1 percent, Rio Tinto is up more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is flat.
Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Santos is edging up 0.5 percent. Beach Energy is declining more than 1 percent.
Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are edging up 0.4 percent each, while ANZ Banking is edging down 0.2 percent. National Australia Bank is edging up 0.2 percent.
In the tech space, Afterpay is losing almost 3 percent, Zip is declining more than 2 percent and Appen is down 1.5 percent, while Xero is edging up 0.1 percent. WiseTech Global is flat. Gold miners are mostly lower. Newcrest Mining is edging down 0.5 percent and Evolution Mining is declining more than 1 percent, while Gold Road Resources and Northern Star Resources are losing almost 1 percent each. Resolute Mining is gaining more than 1 percent.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.726 on Thursday.
The Japanese stock market is slightly lower on Thursday, extending the losses in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 just below the 28,900 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders braced for a feared rebound in coronavirus cases at the start of New Year’s holidays due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,886.09, down 20.79 points or 0.07 percent, after hitting a low of 28,579.49 earlier. Japanese shares ended notably lower on Wednesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.3 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is flat and Honda is edging down 0.4 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is edging up 0.3 percent, while Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings are adding almost 1 percent each. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is flat, while Mizuho Financial is edging up 0.2 percent.
The major exporters are lower. Panasonic is edging down 0.4 percent and Sony is edging down 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are losing almost 1 percent each.
Among the other major losers, Nintendo and Sumitomo Osaka Cement are losing almost 2 percent each.
Conversely, Z Holdings is gaining almost 6 percent. In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 115 yen-range on Thursday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are lower by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent each, while China, Hong Kong and New Zealand are higher by between 0.4 and 0.7 percent each. Taiwan is relatively flat. On Wall Street, stocks turned in another mixed performance during trading on Wednesday After ending the previous session on opposite sides of the unchanged line. Despite the choppy trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs.
The Dow rose 90.42 points or 0.3 percent to 36,488.63, closing high for the sixth consecutive session. The S&P 500 also inched up 6.71 points or 0.1 percent to 4,793.06, while the Nasdaq climbed well off its worst levels but still closed down 15.51 points or 0.1 percent at 15,766.22.
The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index fell by 0.7 percent.
Crude oil prices moved higher Wednesday, extending recent gains after the Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude oil inventories fell more than expected last week. Crude oil for February delivery climbed $0.58 or 0.8 percent to $76.56 a barrel.