Asian Markets Close Mixed, Eyeing Delta Spread, Jobs Data

Asian stock markets closed trading on a mixed note on Friday, with modest advances recorded by key regional benchmarks including Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index.

It was weak sentiment elsewhere. China’s Shanghai Composite Index, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index, and South Korea’s Kospi closed trading on the last day of the week in negative territory.

Despite local cues, trading sentiment in the region mostly lay anchored around progress in virus fights and the likely pace of normalization from a pandemic induced ultra-loose monetary policy.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index sank 70.02 points or 2 percent to close at 3,518.76, as recent political comments by Chinese officials dampened trading sentiment already impacted by anxiety ahead of crucial jobs data from the U.S.

Hong Kong stocks followed their mainland peers lower, with the Hang Seng Index tumbling 517.53 points or 1.8 percent to close at 28,310.42.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index added 76.24 points or 0.3 percent to finish Friday’s trading at 28,783.28. Mazda Motor was the top gainer with a jump of 6.5 percent. Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding moved up by 5.1 percent, while Sony Corp. advanced 3.7 percent.

Nikon Corp. topped the trailers list with an erosion of 2.9 percent followed by Tokyo Electron, which lost 2.1 percent.

South Korea’s Kospi edged down 0.28 points or 0.01 percent to close at 3,281.78 as investors weighed the spikes in coronavirus infections and declines in annual and monthly inflation numbers. Annual inflation decreased to 2.4 percent in June from 2.6 percent in May and the forecast of 2.59 percent.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed Friday’s trade with a gain of 43.00 points or 0.6 percent at the level of 7,308.60 as the government announced a vaccine-milestone-linked four-phase reopening scheme. The index’s current level is 1.3 percent below its 52-week high.

IDP Education rallied 20.3 percent following the announcement of the acquisition of British Council’s Indian IELTS operations. The A2 Milk Company surged up 5.2 percent after appointing a new Chief Marketing Officer. IPH slumped 5.3 percent following a proposal to issue ordinary shares.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 28.21 points or 0.2 percent to close at 12,711.84 amidst data that showed the ANZ Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index remained at previous month’s level of 114 as compared to a forecast of 115.

Media group NZME gained 11.8 percent, while online lender Harmoney Corp moved up 6.5 percent. Water related services provider Just Life Group also rose 6 percent.

MHM Automation dropped 4.7 percent, while health and wellness brand Me Today which recently declared annual results declined by 4.4 percent.

Overnight, the Nasdaq 100 Index closed at 14,560.05, up 0.04 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s final reading for Thursday was 34,633.53, higher by 0.4 percent over the previous close.

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