Asian Markets Extend Losses On Trade War Fears

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Asian stock markets are declining on Monday, extending losses from the previous session, amid worries that a full-blown trade war between the U.S. and China could negatively impact global economic growth. In addition, weak metal prices weighed on mining stocks. However, some of the markets have pared earlier losses as U.S. equity futures advanced on Monday and oil stocks rose.

The Australian market is notably lower. In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 116.50 points or 1.96 percent to 5,820.70, off a low of 5,808.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 114.20 points or 1.89 percent to 5,929.00.

The major miners are weak after a fall in the prices of iron ore and industrial metals. BHP Billiton is losing almost 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is lower by 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is down 0.3 percent.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank - are also lower in a range of 0.4 percent to almost 1 percent.

The incoming CEO of Commonwealth Bank, Matt Comyn, said he has already started to look for replacements for three senior executives set to depart this year.

AMP said that CEO Craig Meller will step down at the end of this year and a search for his successor will include internal and external candidates. The banking and wealth manager's shares are losing almost 2 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are gaining after gold prices surged to a one-month high on Friday. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are rising almost 2 percent each.

Oil stocks are also rising after crude oil prices hit their highest level since late January on Friday. Santos is advancing more than 1 percent, Oil Search is up 0.4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.2 percent.

Harvey Norman's troubled joint venture Victorian dairy company, Coomboona Holdings, has been placed in receivership and administrators appointed. The furniture and electronics retailer's shares are down almost 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Monday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7713, up from US$0.7709 on Friday.

The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session. In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 178.98 points or 0.87 percent to 20,438.88, off a low of 20,347.49 in early trades.

The major exporters are weak. Panasonic is lower by more than 2 percent, Sony is declining almost 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is losing 0.6 percent and Canon is down 0.5 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is losing more than 2 percent and Honda is declining 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by almost 1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is advancing 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is rising more than 2 percent after crude oil prices gained more than 2 percent on Friday.

Among the market's best performers, Oji Holdings is rising more than 2 percent, while MEIJI Holdings and Credit Saison are advancing almost 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Ricoh Co. is losing almost 5 percent, Kansai Electric Power and Sumco Corp. are down more than 4 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 104 yen range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Malaysia are all lower, while South Korea and Taiwan are edging higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower in a volatile session on Friday as lingering trade war concerns weighed on the markets. Traders were also digesting a mixed batch of U.S. economic data, with separate reports from the Commerce Department showing a jump in durable goods orders but a drop in new home sales.

The Dow tumbled 424.69 points or 1.8 percent to 23,533.20, the Nasdaq plunged 174.01 points or 2.4 percent to 6,992.67 and the S&P 500 slumped 55.43 points or 2.1 percent to 2,588.26.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.4 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose on Friday after Saudi Arabia said output cuts would be extended into 2019. May WTI crude gained $1.58 or 2.5 percent to $65.88 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.