BEIJING (AP) — Most Asian stock markets declined Thursday after Wall Street fell for a fifth day and Britain’s Cabinet endorsed a draft agreement to leave the European Union.
KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 lost 0.7 percent to 21,686.71 points and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 retreated 0.6 percent to 5,696.00. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3 percent to 2,641.21 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.1 percent to 25,689.00. Jakarta gained while New Zealand, Taiwan and other Southeast Asian markets declined.
WALL STREET: U.S. markets were dragged down by losses for tech companies, banks and insurers. Apple Inc. lost 2.8 percent. Bond prices rose as traders shifted money into low-risk assets. That pulled yields down, which hurts banks by driving interest rates on loans lower. Energy stocks rebounded as crude oil prices snapped a 12-day losing streak. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.8 percent to 2,701.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.8 percent to 25,080.50. The Nasdaq composite dropped 0.9 percent to 7,136.39.
BREXIT: Prime Minister Theresa May persuaded the British Cabinet to back an agreement to separate from the European Union, triggering the final steps toward Brexit. May said the decision is a “decisive step” toward finalizing the exit deal with the EU within days, though it was unclear whether Parliament will go along. The deal would allow Britain to stay in a customs union, bound by EU rules, while the two sides negotiate a trade treaty. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the two sides agreed to avoid a “hard border” between Ireland, a member of the trade bloc, and Northern Ireland.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Despite the U.K. cabinet backing the new Brexit draft plan, the boost for markets had been short-lived with the sea of worries overruling sentiment,” said Jingyi Pan of IG in a report. Asian markets are “taking after the poor leads from Wall Street” due to “little data” due out in the region.
AUSTRALIAN JOBS: Government data showed employment rose by 32,800 in October, above market expectations for a gain of 20,000. The jobless rate stayed at 5 percent. The annual rate of job creation rose to 2.5 percent.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 32 cents to $55.93 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 56 cents on Wednesday to close at $56.25. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 24 cents to $65.88 per barrel in London. It gained 65 cents the previous session to $66.12.
CURRENCY: The dollar weakened to 113.47 yen from Wednesday’s 113.63 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1323 from $1.1309.