Asian stock markets are mixed on Monday following the lackluster cues from Wall Street Friday amid worries about U.S.-Saudi Arabia tensions and on caution as the corporate earnings season gains momentum. Some of the markets pared initial losses after Chinese stocks rallied more than 2 percent at the start of trade.
The Australian market is losing ground following the mixed cues from Wall Street and on political uncertainty after news that Australia's ruling Liberal Party was poised to lose a crucial by-election in Sydney that could rob the government of its one-seat parliamentary majority.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 38.70 points or 0.65 percent to 5,900.80, off a low of 5,887.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 39.70 points or 0.66 percent to 6,003.10. Australian shares closed marginally lower on Friday.
The big four banks are weak. ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are down in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent.
The major miners are also mostly lower. BHP is declining almost 1 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.5 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding 0.5 percent.
Among oil stocks, Santos is advancing almost 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is lower by 0.6 percent and Oil Search is declining 0.2 percent even as crude oil prices rose on Friday.
Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower Friday. Evolution Mining is rising almost 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.6 percent.
Virgin Australia reported a nearly 10 percent increase in revenue for the three months to September 30, and said it expects first-half underlying pre-tax profit to increase at least 22 percent to A$100 million. The airline's shares are rising almost 1 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7115, up from $0.7109 on Friday.
The Japanese market has pared initial losses and is modestly lower following the mixed cues from Wall Street amid worries about U.S.-Saudi Arabia tensions. Investors are also cautious ahead of upcoming earnings results from major companies this week.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 67.02 points or 0.30 percent to 22,465.06, after falling to a low of 22,271.59 earlier. Japanese shares fell on Friday to extend losses from the previous session.
Among the major exporters, Sony is declining more than 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric and Panasonic are down almost 1 percent each. Canon is down 0.6 percent. SoftBank is lower by more than 1 percent.
Among auto makers, Honda is declining 0.3 percent and Toyota is down 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising 0.3 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.2 percent.
In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is losing almost 1 percent, while Inpex is adding more than 1 percent after crude oil prices rose on Friday.
In the tech sector, Advantest is edging up less than 0.1 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding 0.2 percent.
Among the best performers, Shiseido Co. is rising almost 3 percent, while NEC Corp. and Credit Saison are adding almost 2 percent each.
On the flip side, Kawasaki Heavy Industries is losing more than 9 percent and JXTG Holdings is lower by almost 4 percent. Rakuten, Ebara Corp., Nippon Electric and Showa Shell are all declining more than 3 percent each.
In economic news, Japan will see August numbers for its all industry activity index today.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 112 yen-range on Friday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea and Malaysia are also modestly lower, while Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher. Shanghai is gaining more than 3 percent.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Friday after failing to sustain an early move to the upside following a rally by Chinese stocks and upbeat earnings from major companies. Traders seemed reluctant to make more significant moves, however, as concerns about rising interest rates and tension between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia continued to weigh on the markets.
While the Dow rose 64.89 points or 0.3 percent to 25,444.34, the Nasdaq fell 36.11 points or 0.5 percent to 7,449.03 and the S&P 500 edged down 1.00 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2.767.78.
The major European markets also ended mixed on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index dipped by 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.6 percent.
Crude oil prices recovered some lost ground on Friday as investors shifted their focus back to the impending U.S. sanctions on Iran's oil exports, which will come into force on November 4. WTI crude for November added $0.47 or 0.7 percent to $69.12 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.