Asian Markets Lower On Fresh Trade Worries

Asian stock markets are notably lower on Thursday following the overnight sell-off on Wall Street amid rising worries about economic growth. Investor sentiment was further dampened by news that following a victory at the World Trade Organization, the U.S. plans to impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of goods from the European Union.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said that the tariffs on European Union aircraft and agricultural products will take effect on October 18 and includes Airbus planes.

The Australian market is extending losses from the previous session.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 142.40 points or 2.14 percent to 6,497.50, after falling to a low of 6484.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 137.40 points or 2.03 percent to 6,615.90. Australian stocks fell sharply on Wednesday to hit a three-week low.

The major miners are notably lower. Rio Tinto is losing more than 3 percent, while BHP Billiton Fortescue Metals are declining more than 2 percent each.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 2.2 percent to 2.4 percent, while National Australia Bank is losing 3 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices declined almost 2 percent overnight. Santos and Woodside Petroleum are losing more than 3 percent each, while Oil Search is declining more than 2 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miner Newcrest Mining is gaining more than 3 percent and Evolution Mining is rising almost 3 percent after gold prices rose sharply overnight on safe-haven appeal.

Webster said it has agreed to be acquired by Canada-based retirement fund manager PSP Investments in a deal worth A$854 million. The agribusiness company’s shares are gaining almost 52 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the service sector in Australia continued to expand in September, and at a slightly faster rate, with a Performance of Service Index score of 51.5. That’s up from 51.4 in August, and it moves slightly further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Australia is also scheduled to release August trade data today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6713, up from $0.6702 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is sharply lower, extending losses from the previous session, while the safe-haven yen strengthened.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is falling 461.60 points or 2.12 percent to 21,317.01, after touching a low of 21294.16 earlier. Japanese stocks declined on Wednesday.

The major exporters are weak on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is lower by almost 3 percent, Panasonic is declining more than 2 percent, Canon is losing 2 percent and Sony is down almost 1 percent.

In the auto sector, Honda Motor is lower by almost 3 percent and Toyota Motor is losing more than 2 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is declining almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is lower by 0.5 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank and Fast Retailing are losing more than 2 percent each.
Among oil stocks, Japan Petroleum is falling almost 4 percent and Inpex is declining more than 3 percent after crude oil prices declined almost 2 percent overnight.

Among the worst performers, Takara Holdings, Yokogawa Electric and Nisshinbo Holdings are all losing more than 4 percent each. T&D Holdings, Tokuyama Corp. and Suzuki Motor are lower by 4 percent each.

On the economic front, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed that the services sector in Japan continued to expand in September, albeit at a slower rate, with a PMI score of 52.8. That’s down from the 22-month high of 53.3 in August, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 107 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand is declining almost 1 percent, while Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also lower. The markets in South Korea and China are closed for public holidays on Thursday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Wednesday as disappointing jobs data from payroll processor ADP added to the economic concerns raised by the weak manufacturing data released on Tuesday. ADP said private sector employment climbed by 135,000 jobs in September compared to economist estimates for an increase of about 140,000 jobs.

The Dow plummeted 494.42 points or 1.9 percent to 26,078.62, the Nasdaq slumped 123.44 points or 1.6 percent to 7,785.25 and the S&P 500 tumbled 52.64 points or 1.8 percent to 2,887.61.

The major European markets showed more substantial moves to the downside on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index plunged by 2.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index plummeted by 3.1 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices declined sharply on Wednesday after data showed U.S. crude stockpiles rose for a third straight week and worries about a likely drop in global energy demand increased after disappointing manufacturing data from the U.S. and Europe. WTI crude for November delivery tumbled $0.98 or about 1.8 percent to $52.64 a barrel.

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