March 20, 2016 - 3:13 PM EDT
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Asian Markets Exhibit Mixed Trend

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Monday following the positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, while the pullback in crude oil and commodity prices weighed on resources stocks. The absence of major economic data is contributing to quiet trading in the markets. The Japanese market is closed for a public holiday.

The Australian market has pared its initial gains and is marginally lower. In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 28.50 points or 0.55 percent to 5,154.60, after rising to a high of 5,195.70 in early trades. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 26.00 points or 0.50 percent to 5,213.30.

Among the big miners, Rio Tinto is edging up 0.09 percent, while BHP Billiton is lower by almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is down more than 2 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is down 1 percent after gold prices slipped on Friday.

The big four banks - Westpac Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking - are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 1 percent.

In the oil space, Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are down more than 1 percent each, while Santos is losing more than 2 percent following the decline in crude oil prices.

Virgin Australia will borrow A$425 million from its four major shareholders, giving it time to review its capital structure so as to boost profitability. Shares of the company are gaining almost 8 percent.

Energy producer AGL Energy said it expects disruptions in

Australia's
power supply over the next two months due to extensive inspections and repairs at its Liddell power station in NSW. Shares of AGL Energy are up 0.3 percent.

CIMIC Group has been selected by the

Queensland
government to build the next stage of the
Gold Coast
light rail, after finalizing A$420 million funding for the long-anticipated project. The company's shares are advancing more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly lower against the

U.S.
dollar on Monday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7607, down from US$0.7641 on Friday.

Elsewhere in

Asia
,
Shanghai
is gaining almost 2 percent, while
New Zealand
,
Indonesia
and
Hong Kong
are up with modest gains.
Singapore
is down almost 1 percent, while
South Korea
,
Malaysia
and
Taiwan
are marginally lower. The markets in
Japan
are closed on Monday for the Vernal Equinox Day.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Friday, extending the upward trend seen over the past several sessions. The markets benefited from easing concerns about the Fed raising rates and derailing the economy amid some recent signs of sluggishness.

The Dow climbed 120.81 points or 0.7 percent to 17,602.30, the Nasdaq rose 20.66 points or 0.4 percent to 4,795.65 and the S&P 500 advanced 8.97 points or 0.4 percent to 2,049.56.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Friday. The

U.K.'s
FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.2 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.4 percent and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices turned lower on Friday, but still closed higher for the week. Crude for April delivery ended the day down $0.76 at $39.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Source: Equities.com News (March 20, 2016 - 3:13 PM EDT)

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