Asia Markets

Asia markets broadly lower amid news of a planned telco merger in Australia

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Key Points
  • Asia markets were broadly down on Thursday afternoon following another round of record-high closes overnight on Wall Street.
  • On Wednesday, Canada rejoined negotiations for the future of NAFTA.
  • Australian telcos TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchison Australia announced earlier in the day that a "proposed merger of equals" had been agreed upon.

Asia markets were broadly down on on Thursday afternoon after trading in positive broadly positive territory earlier in the day, as Australia's third and fourth largest telecom operators announced plans for a merger.

Down Under, the ASX 200 ended the trading day in flat territory and closed at 6,351.80. However, the telecommunications sector rose 3.59 percent after TPG Telecom and Vodafone Hutchison Australia announced a merger that will create a combined entity valued at A$15 billion ($11 billion).

Shares of Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia), which owns 50 percent of Vodafone Hutchison Australia, closed 44 percent higher on that news, while shares of TPG Telecom jumped 18.15 percent.

South Korea's Kospi also ended the trading day largely flat. The index reached an intraday high of 2,320.85 earlier after news that U.S. President Donald Trump had signed proclamations which allow for "targeted relief from steel and aluminum quotas from some countries," including South Korea.

Shares of the country's steelmakers rose on that announcement, with Hyundai Steel closing up by 0.56 percent while Posco saw gains of 0.3 percent.

The closed mainly flat at 22,869.50. The index had been up by 0.75 percent at the open before rising to a more than three-month high, according to Reuters.

The Greater China markets were down in midday trade as Hong Kong's Hang Seng index traded down by 0.77 percent as of 3:18 p.m. HK/SIN. Over on the mainland, the composite lost its earlier gains to and was down by 1.14 percent to close around 2,737.74 while the Shenzhen composite ended at 1,467.182 after falling by around 1.484 percent.

The Nasdaq Composite rose 1 percent to close at 8,109.69, reaching yet another record high. The S&P 500 also gained 0.6 percent to close at 2,914.04, closing above 2,900 for the first time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by 60.55 points and closed at 26,124.57.

Investor sentiments were also boosted by the announcement that Canada had rejoined the NAFTA talks, following the deal reached by the U.S. and Mexico earlier this week.

U.S. President Donald Trump has voiced optimism on the prospect of Canada joining the new U.S.-Mexico trade deal, while reiterating that the deadline for Ottawa to do so was on Friday, August 31.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, was down at 94.481 as of 3:21 p.m. HK/SIN after trading largely flat earlier.

The yen traded mainly firm against the dollar at 111.60 while the Australian dollar recovered from some of its losses but still traded down by 0.14 percent at $0.7298 as of 3:22 p.m. HK/SIN.

Oil markets extended their gains in the afternoon of Asia trade, the global benchmark brent crude was up by 0.36 percent at $77.42 a barrel. U.S. crude was up by 0.43 percent at $69.81 a barrel.

Here's a look at the economic data ahead:

  • Hong Kong – July retail sales @ 4:30 p.m. HK/SIN

– CNBC's Fred Imbert and Reuters contributed to this report.