Asian Markets Mixed, China Markets Lead Losses
Stocks in Asia-Pacific were mixed in Thursday trade, with Australia’s jobs data for March beating expectations.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.39%.
Australia’s unemployment rate for March came in at 5.6%, according to seasonally adjusted estimates released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday, against expectations of a 5.7% reading.
Data from the ABS also showed 70,700 net new jobs being created in March, more than double the forecast in a Reuters poll for a 35,000 rise.
Mainland Chinese stocks slipped, with the Shanghai Composite down 1.18% while the Shenzhen component declined 1.384%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.96%.
Elsewhere in Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced fractionally while the Topix index gained 0.38%. South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.35%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan traded 0.29% lower.
In coronavirus developments, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel decided Wednesday to postpone a decision on Johnson and Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine following the development of a rare but potentially life-threatening blood-clotting disorder in six women.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked states to temporarily halt using J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine “out of an abundance of caution.”
Asian Markets Currencies and oil
The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 91.679 following its decline from above 92.1 earlier in the week.
The Japanese yen traded at 108.85 per dollar, stronger than levels above 109.6 against the greenback seen earlier this week. The Australian dollar was at $0.771, having climbed from levels below $0.765 yesterday.
Oil prices tumbled on Thursday after holding around one-month highs in the previous session, having surged at around 5% after the International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC raised forecasts for oil demand despite the prevailing coronavirus Pandemic.
Brent crude was down by 21 cents, or 0.3%, at $66.37 a barrel by 0129 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures dropped 25 cents, or 0.4%, to $62.9 a barrel.