Asia report: Markets finish mixed, unemployment jumps in Korea
Markets in Asia finished in a mixed state on Friday, as Covid-19 concerns continued to dampen sentiment following a third session of losses on Wall Street overnight.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 was down 0.41% at 23,410.63, as the yen strengthened 0.23% against the dollar to last trade at JPY 105.21.
Automation specialist Fanuc was down 1.16%, while among the benchmark’s other major components, fashion firm Fast Retailing rose 4.27% and technology conglomerate SoftBank Group was 0.1% firmer.
The broader Topix index lost 0.86% by the end of trading in Tokyo, closing at 1,617.69.
On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite managed gains of 0.13% to 3,336.36, and the smaller, technology-heavy Shenzhen Composite was 0.39% weaker at 2,265.43.
South Korea’s Kospi was off 0.83% at 2,341.53, while the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong rose 0.94% to 24,386.79.
The blue-chip technology stocks were weaker in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics down 0.83%, while chipmaker SK Hynix added 2.07%.
In fresh data out of Korea, the country’s unemployment rate jumped to 3.9% in September, rising from 3.2% in August and above consensus expectations for 3.7%.
“The consensus was on the optimistic side, especially when considering that a big payback was due in September, following the fortunate timing of the survey in August, which was conducted before the most recent social-distancing measures were imposed,” said Pantheon Macroeconomics senior Asia economist Miguel Chanco.
“On our adjustment, the number of unemployed workers jumped by 120,000 month-on-month in September, erasing most of the 130,000 plunge in the previous month.
“Meanwhile, the size of the labour force rose more modestly, by 12,000 month-on-month, after August’s 70,000 collapse.”
Oil prices were lower as the region entered the weekend, with Brent crude last down 1.07% at $42.70 per barrel, and West Texas Intermediate off 0.59% at $40.72.
In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was off 0.54% at 6,176.80, as telecoms provider Aussie Broadband more than doubled its AUD 1.00 issue price on debut, before closing at AUD 1.91.
Mining giant Rio Tinto was down 0.85% in Sydney trading, however, after it reported a 5% decline in third quarter iron ore shipments, and warned of a slowing rate of economic recovery.
“Recent high-frequency data suggests that the rate of recovery in growth is slowing in most economies, with pent-up demand dissipating, and the rise of renewed lockdowns threatening recovery,” the company said in its statement.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 was 0.43% weaker at 12,433.16, led lower by two of the country’s biggest electricity generator-retailers.
Contact Energy was down 4.44%, and Meridian Energy lost 4.24% by the close in Wellington.
The down under dollars were mixed against the greenback, with the Aussie last 0.25% weaker at AUD 1.4131, while the Kiwi strengthened 0.03% to NZD 1.5153.