Asia Markets

Asia-Pacific markets mixed as U.S. stocks rally; Australia's jobless rate hits 22-year high

Key Points
  • Asia markets traded mixed on Thursday by the close.
  • Jobs data in Australia released on Thursday showed that the unemployment rate surged to a 22-year high of 7.5% in July, according to Reuters.
  • Over on Wall Street, stocks jumped as traders stateside seemed to shrug off uncertainty over a second coronavirus stimulus bill, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday said both sides were still "miles apart" on relief negotiations.

Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed by the close on Thursday, following a surge in the U.S. markets overnight as tech stocks rallied.

Mainland Chinese markets barely budged in much of the trading day on Thursday. By the close, the Shanghai composite traded flat to close at 3,320.73, and the Shenzhen composite also closed flat at 2,216.47. The Shenzhen component edged down 0.13% to 13,291.32.

China's banks are expected to dispose of 3.4 trillion ($489.9 billion) of bad loans this year, in a bid to contain financial risks amid a weakened economy, according to Reuters citing the official Xinhua news agency.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.10% in afternoon trade. Tencent shares slipped 1.44% after the Chinese tech giant reported earnings after markets close on Wednesday. Gaming boosted overall revenue in the second quarter, while Tencent saw some weakness in its advertising business. Overall, its profit attributable to equity holders of the company was 33.1 billion yuan ($4.76 billion) compared to 27.56 billion yuan expected. That's a 37% year-on-year rise.

Japan's Nikkei 225 bounced 1.78% higher to close at 23,249.61, while the Topix was also up 1.16% to 1,624.15. Auto and tech stocks jumped. Softbank was up 3.73%, while Sony rose 2.81%. 

South Korea's Kospi rose 0.21% to close at 2,437.53. Overall, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.13%.

Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia declined 0.67%.

Jobs data in Australia released on Thursday showed the unemployment rate surged to a 22-year high of 7.5% in July, according to Reuters. Coronavirus cases have surged again in recent weeks in the country's Victoria state. Authorities had to impose a night curfew and tighten restrictions again last week in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city, according to Reuters.

On Wall Street, stocks jumped as traders stateside seemed to shrug off uncertainty over a second coronavirus stimulus bill, even as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday said both sides were still "miles apart" on relief negotiations.

Sentiment was also lifted in part by President Donald Trump saying late Tuesday that the U.S. government will purchase 100 million doses of Moderna's experimental coronavirus vaccine, currently in late-stage human trials.

Major indexes jumped with Big Tech names soaring. The S&P 500 fell just short of a new record close, gaining 1.4% in the biggest one-day jump since July 675

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.1%, while the Nasdaq Composite outperformed, rallying 2.1%. Facebook, Amazon and Netflix were all up at least 1.5% while Alphabet, parent of Google, advanced 1.8%. Microsoft and Apple gained more than 2.8% each.

"Optimism persists it seems with respect to early agreement on a new US fiscal support package, despite a complete lack of evidence of movement in this direction," Ray Attrill, head of foreign exchange strategy, wrote in a morning note.

Meanwhile, markets will await the release of weekly jobless claims data stateside on Thursday.

Currencies and oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 93.119, weakening from levels above 93.6 seen earlier in the week. 

The Japanese yen traded at 106.66 per dollar, weakening after levels above 105 earlier. The Australian dollar changed hands at 0.7158, strengthening from earlier this week.

Oil prices slipped in the afternoon during Asian trading hours. International benchmark Brent crude futures dipped 0.26% to $45.31 per barrel. U.S. crude futures were down 0.23% to $42.56 per barrel.

— CNBC's Fred Imbert and Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.