Australia’s prime minister on Thursday called a May 18 election that will be fought on issues including climate change, asylum seekers and economic management.

Morrison’s conservative coalition is seeking a third three-year term. But Morrison is the third prime minister to lead a divided government in that time and only took the helm in late August.

Opinion polls suggest his reign will become one of the shortest in the 118-year history of Australian prime ministers on election day. The polls suggest center-left opposition leader Bill Shorten will become the eighth prime minister since the country plunged into an extraordinary period of political instability in 2007.

Australian stocks AU:XJO were falling in early Thursday trading, with the S&P/ASX 200

XJO, -0.38%

  off 0.4%.

Stocks in Japan and South Korea have started little changed following a directionless day regionally yesterday and overnight gains in the U.S. Korea’s Kospi

SEU, -0.19%

  is up 0.1% as it looks at a 10th-straight gain while Japan’s Nikkei

NIK, -0.28%

 is flat. But New Zealand equities are finally rebounding, with the NZX-50

NZ50GR, +0.46%

  up 0.6% following 6-straight declines.

Chinese stocks are generally lower amid fresh softness in Asia and even as March’s inflation generally rose as expected in the country. Shenzhen

399106, -1.72%

  indexes are down about 0.25% while the large-cap CSI 300 is off a bit less. The Shanghai Composite

SHCOMP, -1.35%

 , meanwhile, is little changed. Electric-vehicle makers are solid earlier amid a new subsidy policy while alcoholic-beverage makers are broadly retreating after recent strength.

This story was compiled from Associated Press and Dow Jones Newswires reports

Providing critical information for the U.S. trading day. Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Need to Know newsletter. Sign up here.

Source link