Asia Markets

Asian markets close mixed after retail tanks in US session; oil gains

Key Points
  • Asian markets weaker after U.S. retails stocks tank on Wall Street
  • Shares of retailers in Asia mixed, with Australian retailers trading lower
  • Pound stable after tanking on back of Bank of England's interest rate decision yesterday
  • Oil prices gain slightly after settling higher yesterday

Markets in Asia closed mixed on Friday, following the lower close stateside on weak earnings from U.S. retailer Macy's and ahead of the G7 finance meeting in Italy.

Masashi Kato | Getty Images

The Nikkei 225 was softer on Friday, easing by 0.39 percent or 77.65 points to close at 19,883.9, while the Kospi edged down by 0.45 percent or 10.35 points to close at 2,286.02.

Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 percent or 41.437 points to finish at 5,836.9..

Greater Chinese markets were in the green. The reversed earlier losses to finish 0.71 percent or 21.8559 points higher at 3,083.3562 and the Shenzhen Composite inched up by 0.058 percent or 1.0509 points to close at 1,820.196. Hong Kong's gained 0.03 percent.

Retail stocks in Asia were mixed following the softer lead from U.S. retailers in the previous session, with South Korea's Lotte Shopping closed higher by 2.34 percent but Australian retailers mostly trading lower. Myer shares dropped 3.57 percent and Harvey Norman closed 2.68 percent down.

In Singapore, shares of commodity trader Noble Group tumbled 20 percent after the company reported sharp losses for Q1 despite attempts to restructure. The company's executive chairman, Richard Elman, said in a note published on the Singapore Exchange that he would be stepping down.

DBS Research maintained its "hold" call on the company, adding that questions about Noble's ability to "secure sufficient liquidity" from banks remained.

"There is risk that losses may continue due to the inability to effectively hedge the price risk in its coal business, and still negative operating cashflows," analyst Mervin Song said in a note.

Meanwhile, mobile gaming company Netmarble Games debuted in South Korea above its IPO price. The company raised $2.3 billion it what was the second largest IPO in South Korea. Netmarble closed 1.82 percent lower at 162,000 won a stock.

Is it too late to get into sterling?

In currency news, the pound tanked against the dollar following the Bank of England's (BOE) interest rate decision yesterday. The BOE stood pat but lowered its growth projections. Cable fell sharply after the news in the last session but was stable today, last trading at $1.2886. Pound/dollar traded around $1.292 before the news.

The dollar eased against a basket of rival currencies to trade at 99.583, but still off the 98 handle seen last week. Dollar/yen was weaker, with the greenback fetching 113.72 yen. Dollar/yen climbed above the 114 level in the last two sessions.

Ahead, a weekend meeting of top finance chiefs from the world leading economies called the G7 will meet in Italy at the weekend with trade and currencies expected to be on the agenda.

Oil prices made gains for a third straight session after adding more than 1 percent yesterday. U.S. West Texas International crude traded higher by 0.38 percent at $48.01 a barrel while Brent crude futures edged up by 0.37 percent at $50.96.

U.S. equities closed lower on Thursday as weak earnings reports Macy's weighed on major U.S. retailers, causing the S&P 500 to decline 0.22 percent or 5.19 points to close at 2,394.44. Macy's earnings miss for Q1 led to shares of the retailer tumbling 17 percent.