Petrotahlil - Asian petrochemical shares were mostly lower on Thursday, tracking the slump in US equities overnight amid worries over recent spikes in global coronavirus infections which would have serious repercussions on demand.
At 03:20 GMT, Japan's Asahi Kasei was down by 0.81%, while Mitsui Chemicals slumped 2.03% as the benchmark Nikkei 225 index fell by 0.67%.
South Korea’s SK Innovation was down by 3.42% while LG Chem slipped by 0.16%, with the KOSPI composite index was up by 0.53%.
PetroChina was down by 1.35% in Hong Kong, with the Hang Seng index down by 1.18%.
Shares of Chinese petrochemical giant Sinopec were trading higher as its third-quarter net profit nearly quadrupled, largely due to divestment of pipeline assets, as well as stronger contributions from its refining business.
Markets in Indonesia and Malaysia are closed on Thursday for public holidays.
|Company/Stock Exchange (As of 3:20 GMT)||% Change|
|Nikkei 225 (Tokyo)||-0.67%|
|Asahi Kasei Corp||-0.81%|
|JXTG Holdings, Inc||-1.48%|
|Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp||-0.35%|
|Mitsui Chemicals, Inc||-2.03%|
|Hang Seng Index (Hong Kong)||-1.18%|
|China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec)||2.11%|
|KOSPI Composite Index (Seoul)||0.53%|
|Lotte Chemical Corp||-0.41%|
|TSEC weighted index (Taipei)||-0.81%|
|Formosa Petrochemical Corp||-0.37%|
|Nan Ya Plastics Corp||-0.67%|
|Formosa Chemicals & Fibre Corp||-0.71%|
|STI Index (Singapore)||-0.70%|
Fresh data from Japan remained sombre, with September retail sales down 8.7% year on year.
The country’s central bank is set to announce its interest rate decision later on Thursday as well as release its outlook on the world’s third-biggest economy.
"Whilst it is widely expected that the BOJ will not lower its policy rates further into negative territory, we still expect it to enhance its monetary easing further," said Singapore-based UOB Global Economics & Markets Research.
Investors are also awaiting data on the world’s biggest economy, with the weekly US initial jobless claims and third-quarter GDP data due later on Thursday.
Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 3.43%, its fourth straight negative session and marking its worst day since 11 June; while the Nasdaq tumbled 3.73%, marking its worst performance since 8 September.
New cases and hospitalisations set new records in the US' midwest over the last week, while investor sentiment was also weighed by news of fresh coronavirus-related lockdowns in Europe.
The US reported 63,145 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing its total to 8.61m, according to latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Global coronavirus cases on 28 October stood at 43.8m, with 1.16m deaths, the WHO data showed.
Meanwhile, the US is not backing the nomination of Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the next chief of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and instead expressed support for South Korea's trade minister Yoo Myung-hee for the post.
The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said that the WTO "must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field".
South Korea's Yoo "has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation", it said in a statement.
“This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform," the USTR said.
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