The major markets across Asia-Pacific region are trading in negative territory on Wednesday morning, after major indices ended lower on Wall Street following disappointing retail sales report for March and a weaker-than-expected producer price index.
The Commerce Department said that retail sales fell 1.1% month-over-month in March following an upwardly revised 0.3% increase in February. The decrease came as a surprise to economists, who had expected sales to increase by 0.3%. In another report, the Labor Department said that its producer price index fell 1.2% in March compared to economist estimates of a flat reading. Core producer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, were unchanged compared to the previous month.
However, better-than-expected financial results from Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson as well as positive comments by President Barack Obama and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke helped to limit the losses.
The Dow closed down 137.63 points or 1.7% at 7,920, the Nasdaq closed down 27.59 points or 1.7% at 1,626 and the S&P 500 closed down 17.23 points or 2.0% at 842.
After the markets closed on Wall Street, Intel Corp. reported a 55% drop in profit for the first quarter of 2009 on lower revenues and deteriorating margins. However, the earnings estimate beat analysts expectations. Technology stocks are declining following Intel's remarks that sales are unlikely to pick up in the current quarter.
In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $0.14 at $49.27 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery dropped $0.64 to $49.41 a barrel on Tuesday amid choppy trading, as traders await the weekly inventory report from the Energy Information Administration later in the day.
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 107.12 points to 8,736 and the broader Topix Index of all First Section Issues is down 9.27 points at 834.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, is declining 2.79%, Mizuho Financial is down 2.04%, Sumitomo Mitsui is losing 1.96% and Resona Holdings is down 1.49%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is falling sharply by 6.65%.
Among exporters, Canon is losing 3.54%, Sony is declining 1.96% and Sharp is down 2.46%. Construction machinery manufacturer Komatsu Ltd. said Tuesday that it would close down two domestic factories and a facility operated by a subsidiary to deal with the ongoing tepid demand. The company's stock is down 4.55%. Among automakers, Toyota is down 0.79% and Honda is declining 1.09%.
In the oil sector, Inpex is easing 0.55%, Nippon Oil is losing 2.28% and Showa Shell is edging down 0.66%. Among the trading houses, Mitsubishi Corp. is edging down 0.50% and Itochu is declining 1.05%, but Sumitomo Corp. is adding 0.11%.
Aeon Co Ltd., Japan's second-largest retailer, reported its first annual net loss in seven years on Tuesday, as it grapples with weak domestic consumer spending and a dismal performance at Talbots Inc., its majority-owned U.S. women's apparel business. The company's stock is gaining 5.16%.
Department store chain J. Front Retailing said on Tuesday that it expects its net profit to fall 30% to yen 5.0 billion yen for the year ending February 2010. The shares of the company are advancing 1.43%.
In Sydney, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 6.1 points or 0.20% to 3,759, and the broader All Ordinaries index is advancing 7.00 points, or 0.20% to 3,705.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is losing 0.71%, ANZ Banking Group is falling 1.44%, and National Australia Bank is down 1.96%. Westpac is edging down 0.19%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is decreasing 1.65%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is adding 0.79%, and Rio Tinto is gaining 1.30% ahead of its annual general meeting at London later today. Among gold-related stocks, Lihir Gold is trading unchanged, Sino Gold is advancing 3.35%, and Newcrest Mining is edging up 0.40%.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is edging down 0.13% and Santos is losing 0.47%, but Oil Search is adding up 0.58%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is down 0.97%, but Wesfarmers is gaining 1.64%, and Woolworths is edging up 0.40 %.
South Korea's benchmark KOSPI Index opened Wednesday's session at 1,322, sharply lower than its previous close of 1,343, and is currently trading at 1,328, down 14.40 points, or 1.07%.
Financials are trading weaker. KB Financial Group is losing 3.57%, Shinhan Financial is declining 2.50% and Woori Finance is falling 2.63%.
In the auto space, Hyundai Motor is losing 1.66%, Kia Motor is declining 1.58%, and ]Ssangyong Motor is down 4.66%.
Technology stocks are trading mixed. While Hynix Semiconductor is gaining 1.08% and LG Electronics is advancing 3.94%, LG Display is losing 2.04%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is down 0.87%.
Among the shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries is losing 0.94%, but Daewoo Shipping is adding 1.58% and Samsung Heavy Industries is gaining 1.60%.
Oil related stocks are also trading mixed. While S-Oil is unchanged from previous close, SK Holdings is losing 1.21%.
Hong Kong's benchmark, the Hang Seng Index opened weaker at 15,345, compared to its previous close of 15,580, and is presently trading at 15,306, down 273.76 points, or 1.76%.
Among financials, HSBC Holdings is losing 2.88%, Bank of Communications is falling 1.09%, Bank of China is decreasing 2.37% and Bank of East Asia is edging down 0.74%. Other banks are also trading in negative territory.
Among property stocks, Henderson Land is down 2.13%, Wharf Holdings is slipping 1.78%, SHK Properties is falling 2.38%, New World Development is declining 3.66% and Sino Land is losing 1.42%.
Resource stocks are trading mixed. While Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, is losing 1.63% and PetroChina is down 1.90%, CNOOC is gaining 1.94%.
China-related stocks are also trading mixed. China Resources is gaining 1.12%, but China Mercantile Holdings is losing 3.12% and China Overseas is falling 0.89%.
Among the other major markets in the region, China's Shanghai Composite Index is losing 13.12 points, or 0.52% to 2,514, Singapore's Strait Times Index is down 34.40 points, or 1.81% at 1,863 and Taiwan's Weighted Index is shedding 0.26% or 15.34 points, at 5,877. However, the Jakarta Composite Index in Indonesia is trading in positive territory at 1,573, up 2.37 points, or 0.15%.
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