Asian markets trade lower on weak US leads

<p>Asian stocks fell for a fifth straight day after negative leads from offshore markets following weak US jobs data out late last week. The regional […]</p>

Asian stocks fell for a fifth straight day after negative leads from offshore markets following weak US jobs data out late last week. The regional MSCI Asia Pacific index was 0.4% lower in early afternoon Tokyo trading.

The Australian dollar rallied above 1.03 against the US dollar after some slightly better than expected economic data. Job advertisements were up, as measured by ANZ, while business confidence also confirmed above expectations from previously depressed levels.

All eyes are now on the country’s unemployment numbers which are due out on Thursday. The Euro meanwhile was relatively flat from morning levels against the dollar.

The Japanese Yen was also little changed, with the US dollar last buying around 81.35. The Bank of Japan kept its key interest rate unchanged and no policymaker proposed additional stimulus.

China reported a trade surplus last month which was better than expected. The news provided some relief for equities which pared back earlier losses. Still, Chinese export numbers remain below expectations with trade data only surprising on the upside due to a difference in composition, mainly on imports.

In regional corporate news, regional construction and engineering group Leighton Holdings announced it has secured an attractive $420m mining contract in Indonesia. The contract will see Leighton Asia deliver seven years on contract mining services to PT Marunda Grahamineral in Central Kalimantan, located on the island of Borneo.

Indonesia’s coal industry is likely to see further expansion in capacity as demand forecasts were recently increased. Leighton is one of a very small handful of Australian companies which have a presence in Indonesia – an economy which is likely to exceed the size of Australia over the next ten years.

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