CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Friday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street and on caution ahead of the release of the closely-watched U.S. jobs data later in the day, in addition to the Italian referendum and elections in Austria this weekend.
The U.S. Labor Department is scheduled to release its monthly employment report for November today. Employment is expected to increase by 170,000 jobs in November after climbing by 161,000 jobs in October, while the unemployment rate is expected to hold at 4.9 percent.
The Australian market is declining following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street and the surge in crude oil prices. Investors also turned cautious ahead of the release of U.S. jobs data.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 17.60 points or 0.32 percent to 5,482.60, off a low of 5,480.00. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 18.80 points or 0.34 percent to 5,541.60.
Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is losing more than 1 percent, Rio Tinto is down 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals is lower by almost 2 percent.
In the banking space, ANZ Bank is edging down 0.09 percent, while Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent.
In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is losing almost 1 percent, Oil Search is down 0.6 percent and Santos is declining almost 2 percent despite the overnight surge in crude oil prices.
Origin Energy said its business structure has been simplified, removed a layer of management from the group's energy markets division and launched a search for a new chief financial officer. The company's shares are rising more than 1 percent.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is rising almost 3 percent even as gold prices hit new nine-month lows overnight.
U.S.-based grain processor Archer Daniels Midland Co. said it will sell its 19.9 percent stake in GrainCorp for about A$387 million, following its failed takeover bid. Shares of GrainCorp are rising more than 2 percent.
Bellamy's Australia has warned that slow sales and temporary loss of market in China will hurt revenue. The infant formula maker's shares are tumbling almost 36 percent.
Germany's Fisher & Paykel Healthcare GmbH said that a German court has overturned two preliminary injunctions previously granted to ResMed against Fisher's German subsidiary over a patent dispute. Shares of ResMed are losing almost 4 percent.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that retail sales in Australia advanced a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent on month in October, coming in at A$25.62 billion. That beat expectations for a 0.3 percent increase following the 0.6 percent gain in September.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is flat against the U.S. dollar on Friday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7413, compared to US$0.7417 on Thursday.
The Japanese market is lower following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street and on a stronger yen. Investors are cautious ahead of the release of U.S. jobs data later in the day.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 105.48 points or 0.57 percent to 18,407.64, off a low of 18,370.79 earlier.
Among the major exporters, Sony is down more than 2 percent, while Canon is adding 0.3 percent and Panasonic is advancing more than 1 percent. Toshiba is unchanged.
Automaker Toyota is losing 0.3 percent and Honda is edging down less than 0.1 percent. Fast Retailing is lower by 0.7 percent and Softbank is edging down less than 0.1 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is rising 0.3 percent and JX Holdings is adding 0.5 percent after crude oil prices jumped overnight.
Among the other major gainers, Resona Holdings and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are higher by more than 4 percent each, while Nomura Holdings is gaining almost 4 percent.
On the flip side, DeNA Co. is losing almost 7 percent after the mobile gaming company closed eight additional curated-content websites, Screen Holdings is falling 6 percent and Sumco Corp. is down more than 5 percent.
In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that the monetary base in Japan was up 21.5 percent on year in November, coming in at 417.657 trillion yen. That follows the 22.1 percent spike in October.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 113 yen-range on Friday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all lower, while Indonesia and Malaysia are edging higher.
On Wall Street, stocks turned in a mixed performance on Thursday as traders digested OPEC's decision to curtail oil output as well as the latest batch of U.S. economic data.
The Dow rose 68.35 points or 0.4 percent to a new record closing high of 19,191.93, while the Nasdaq tumbled 72.57 points or 1.4 percent to 5,251.11, and the S&P 500 fell 7.73 points or 0.4 percent to 2,191.08.
Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on Thursday. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures surged Thursday, after OPEC surprisingly announced a deal to curb supplies. WTI crude for January delivery jumped $1.62 or 3.3 percent to settle at $51.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX