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Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mixed on Monday following the lackluster cues from Wall Street Friday amid worries about global economic growth. The markets in mainland China, which resumed trading after the week-long Lunar New Year holidays, are higher, while the Japanese market is closed for a holiday. Investors are cautious as they look ahead to the next round of U.S.-China trade talks to be held in Beijing later this week.

The Australian market slipped into negative territory after opening higher. Investors turned cautious ahead of the release of earnings results from several major local companies and also looked ahead to the next round of U.S.-China trade talks to be held in Beijing this week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 21.6 points or 0.4 percent to 6,049.9, after rising to a high of 6084.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 17.6 points or 0.3 percent to 6,118.6. Australian stocks closed lower on Friday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 3 percent, Rio Tinto is rising almost 2 percent and BHP Group is advancing more than 1 percent.

JB Hi-Fi reported a more than 5 percent increase in first-half profit despite volatile holiday trading and also said it expects full-year profit to rise as much as 5.1 percent. The electronics and home entertainment retailer's shares are gaining almost 4 percent.

Gold miners are mixed even as gold prices rose on Friday. Newcrest Mining is up more than 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is losing more than 1 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 1.3 percent to 1.8 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly weak even as crude oil prices edged higher on Friday. Oil Search is losing almost 1 percent, and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.3 percent, while Santos is up 0.3 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7092, compared to $0.7085 on Friday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand are higher, while South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are lower. The Japanese market is closed on Monday for the National Foundation Day.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday after seeing early weakness amid lingering concerns about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China. Adding to the worries, a report from the Wall Street Journal said the U.S. and China don't even have a draft accord that specifies where they agree and disagree. Overall trading activity was somewhat subdued, however, as a lack of major U.S. economic data kept some traders on the sidelines.

The Nasdaq edged up 9.85 points or 0.1 percent to 7,298.20 and the S&P 500 inched up 1.83 points or 0.1 percent to 2,707.88, while the Dow declined 63.20 points or 0.3 percent to 25,106.33.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Friday. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil prices settled slightly higher on Friday despite concerns about possible drop in energy demand in the near term due to global economic slowdown. WTI crude for March delivery inched up $0.08 or 0.2 percent to close at $57.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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