Most of the Asian equity benchmarks are trading lower on Thursday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street and lower commodity prices, including a more than 5 percent fall in crude oil prices. Investors are also cautious ahead of the release of the crucial US jobs data on Friday and next week's Federal Reserve meeting. Adding to expectations for an increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve next week, payroll processor ADP released a report showing a sharp jump in US private sector employment in the month of February. Meanwhile, Consumer inflation in China slowed to its lowest point in two years. China's producer price index (PPI) jumped more than expected by 7.8 percent in February from the previous year, the fastest pace since Sept. 2008. In contrast, consumer prices slowed, to 0.8 percent year-on-year, its slowest pace since Jan. 2015. Among the other Asian markets, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai Taiwan, and Malaysia are all in negative territory. Bucking the trend, Nikkei and Indonesia are higher.
Hang Seng dipped 233.16 points or 0.98% to 23,549.11, KOSPI Index slipped 1.83 points or 0.09% to 2,093.58, Taiwan Weighted crumbled 81.32 points or 0.83% to 9,672.13, FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI declined 2.88 points or 0.17% to 1,722.66, Straits Times declined 21.49 points or 0.68% to 3,123.80, and Shanghai Composite was down by 27.51 points or 0.85% to 3,213.16.
On the flip side, Nikkei 225 added 63.83 points or 0.33% to 19,317.86, and Jakarta Composite was up by 1.67 points or 0.03% to 5,395.43.