RTTNews - The stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region are trading weak on Monday, with investors picking up cues from Wall Street where stock prices had ended sharply lower in lackluster trading last Friday.

Besides weak Wall Street cues, concerns over a sharp drop in earnings, the spread of the swine flu, lower crude oil prices and a stronger yen are also contributing to the sell-off on the Asian stock exchanges today.

Energy, materials and bank stocks are sliding sharply in the Australian market. Materials stocks BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Orica and energy majors Worleyparsons, Woodside Petroleum and Origin Energy are trading with sharp losses. Bank stocks Westpac Banking Corporation and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are also trading sharply lower.

The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200 is down by nearly 50 points at 3,723. The All Ordinaries index is trading 51.70 points or 1.38% down at 3,707. In New Zealand, the NZX 50 is trading modestly lower at 2,784.97.

The Nikkei 225 average of the Japanese stock market was down by 264.67 points or 2.86% at 9,000 at the end of the morning session, with a stronger yen and concerns over a possible sharp drop in corporate profits for fiscal 2009 hurting sentiment.

Bank stocks fell sharply. Automobiles, oil, steel, metal, machinery and construction stocks were also seen struggling in the morning session. The Yen is trading at 94.72 to the U.S. dollar.

In the Korean stock market, the mood remains cautious with a largely negative bias. Bank, shipbuilding, and technology stocks are trading mixed. Airliners and telecom stocks exhibit weakness while automobile stocks are trading sharply higher.

The KOSPI index, which drifted down to 1,367 following a weak start, is currently down by 19.97 points or 1.43% at 1,372.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong is trading sharply lower, with its benchmark index Hang Seng losing 270 points or 1.6%. In Singapore, the Straits Times is down by nearly 25 points or 1.14%. The Shanghai and Indonesian markets are also trading weak. The Taiwan market is trading modestly higher.

On Friday, most of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region had ended on a buoyant note as investors rushed in to pick up stocks on strong Wall Street cues.

The trend in major European markets was mixed. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down 0.3 percent and the German DAX Index closed just below the unchanged line, the French CAC 40 Index closed up 0.4 percent.

Giving up early gains, Wall Street ended on a weak note Friday as investors pressed sales on concerns over a possible drop in energy demand. None too impressive economic data and auto major General Motors' plan to significantly reduce its dealers network also contributed to the weak close.

The major averages all finished the day firmly in negative territory after ending the previous session notably higher. The Dow closed down 62.68 points or 0.8 percent at 8,268.64, the Nasdaq closed down 9.07 points or 0.5 percent at 1,680.14 and the S&P 500 closed down 10.19 points or 1.1 percent at 882.88.

The economic calendar is relatively light this week, but traders are likely to keep an eye on reports on housing starts, leading economic indicators, and Philadelphia-area manufacturing activity. The Federal Reserve is also due to release the minutes of its latest meeting.

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