CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Friday, with investors treading cautiously amid renewed worries about the European economy on the back of recent disappointing data from Germany and Italy. Worries about the financial situation in Portugal appear to be weighing as well to an extent.
After opening lower on weak cues from the U.S. and Europe, the Australian stock market is edging higher, led by gains in financial, consumer staples and industrial stocks. Mining, energy and telecom stocks are also advancing on renewed buying interest.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is up 37.2 points or 0.7 percent at 5,501.6, rebounding from an early low of 5,441.7. The broader All Ordinaries Index, which declined to 5,432.7 earlier, is currently up 35.2 points or 0.6 percent at 5,489.5.
In the banking space, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are moving up 0.5 to 1.0 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are flat.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) is up 0.5 percent, while Rio Tinto is declining 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals is lower by 0.7 percent. Fortescue Metals said it fell short of its full-year export guidance due to heavy rain in January and own ambitious targets.
Mineral Resources is advancing nearly 4 percent. Qantas Airways and Orica are moving up 2.5 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
Crown Resorts, Scentre Group, Insurance Australia Group, Primary Healthcare, Origin Energy, AMP, Amcor, Brambles, Wesfarmers and Adelaide Brighton are up 1 to 1.8 percent.
Arrium is down 2.5 percent. Iluka Resources, Graincorp, Echo Entertainment Group, Bluescope Steel and ALS are lower by 1 to 2 percent.
On the economic front, the total number of home loans for owner occupied housing came in at a seasonally adjusted 52,092 in May, remaining roughly unchanged month-over-month, a report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed. Previously, the figure had declined a revised 0.2 percent in April. This was higher than the consensus estimate for a 0.5 percent decline in home loans.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher against the U.S. dollar. The local unit is currently quoting at US$0.9387, up from Thursday's close of US$0.9369.
The Japanese stock market declined, hurt by the overnight weakness in the U.S. and European markets amid renewed worries about the financial situation in Portugal. A slightly stronger yen too contributed to the weakness in the market.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 40.2 points or 0.3 percent at 15,176.3, after declining to around 15,101.5 in early trades, hitting a two-week low.
Shinsei Bank declined by over 3 percent. Tosoh Corp., Furukawa, Nippon Yusen KK, Tokyo Tatemono, Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co., Tokyo Fudosan Holdings, Hitachi Zosen, Nippon Sheet Glass, Sharp Corp., Nisshin Steel and Kansai Electric Power were down 2 to 3 percent at the break.
Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding Co. shares were down nearly 2 percent after Mitsui & Co. pared its stake in the shipbuilder.
Fast Retailing Co. shares were lower by about 0.6 percent following the company cutting its annual profit forecast.
Shizuoka Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU), Bank of Yokohama, Chiba Bank, Honda Motor, Mazda Motor and Kobe Steel were also notably lower.
Nippon Express Co. shares were down marginally. The company is likely to post a 20 percent jump in April - June group operating profit at 10 billion yen.
Meanwhile, Canon Inc. (CAJ) rose 2.5 percent on a likely 10 percent rise in April - June operating profit to 110 billion yen on strong copier sales.
NH Foods moved up nearly 4.5 percent. Shionogi & Co., Trend Micro, Kao Corp., Inpex Corp., Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Co., Mitsubishi Motors, Kikkoman Corp. and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma gained 1 to 2.5 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 101 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 101.31 to the U.S. dollar, against Thursday's close of 101.52 yen per dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai and Singapore are trading modestly higher, while Hong Kong is up marginally. Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably lower.
On Wall Street, stocks ended lower, despite staging a recovery of sorts after a sharp setback early on. Renewed worries about the financial situation in Europe triggered the early sell-off. Concerns about the prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rate sooner than anticipated also weighed on the markets following the release of upbeat jobs data.
The Dow declined 70.5 points or 0.4 percent to 16,915.1, the Nasdaq slid 22.8 points or 0.5 percent to 4,396.2 and the S&P 500 dropped 8.2 points or 0.4 percent to 1,964.7.
Major European markets too closed notably lower on Thursday. While the U.K.'sFTSE 100 index lost 0.7 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index tumbled by 1.3 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil snapped a nine-day loss to end higher on Thursday, on bargain hunting and after data from the U.S. showed initial claims for unemployment benefits to have declined more than expected last week.
Crude oil futures for August delivery ended up $0.64 or 0.6 percent at $102.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after declining to a low of $101.55 a barrel intraday.