The markets across the Asia-Pacific region ended mixed on Wednesday, as investors preferred profit taking following an extended relief rally. The markets, having shrugged off the early weakness following a weak closing by Wall Street stocks, could not maintain the momentum and the euphoria over a revival in global economic conditions seems to be losing steam for want of evidence that could instill confidence. Global demand continues to be weak as is evident from a report released earlier in the day by the Japanese government, which showed that exports plummeted by a record 49.9% year-over- year while imports fell 43.0% year-over-year to 3.443 trillion yen.

On Tuesday, the Dow closed down 115.65 points or 1.5% at 7,660, the Nasdaq closed down 37.34 points or 2.4% at 1,518 and the S&P 500 closed down 16.58 points or 2% at 806.

In Asian trading, crude oil declined about 1.3% in electronic trading, ahead of the release of the U.S. weekly petroleum inventories report. Light sweet crude oil for May delivery ended $0.18 higher on New York Mercantile Exchange at $53.98, after hitting an intra-day high of $54.20 and a low of $52.45.

In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index declined 8.31 points, or 0.10% to close at 8,480, while the broader Topix Index of all First Section issues gained 5.77 points, or 0.7% to close at 818.

Investors evinced interest in companies whose business year will end on 31 March, as this is the last day the shares traded with rights for dividend. KDDI Corp, the second largest mobile operator in the country, gained 5.99%, and JFE Holdings, the second largest steel maker in the country, advanced 4.41%. Japan Tobacco gained 4.86%.

Banking stocks ended on a mixed note. While Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, declined 0.56%, Resona Holdings lost 1.61%, and Sumitomo Mitsui fell 1.01%, Mizuho Financial moved up 0.87%. Shinsei Bank ended lower by 2.63% as the bank stated that it is planning to raise 48.2 billion yen by issuing preferred securities in the current month as it seeks to bolster its capital base.

Exporters declined on the back of a stronger yen. Canon lost 0.52%, Sharp declined 1.56% and Sony fell 2.35%. However, automakers advanced. Toyota moved up 1.27% and Honda Motor gained 0.43%.

Oil related stocks ended mixed. Inpex lost 3.01%, but Showa Shell moved up 0.87% and Nippon Oil advanced 1.92%. Among trading houses, Mitsubishi Corp. gained 1.02% and Sumitomo Corp. advanced 1.42%, but Itochu declined 0.19%.

Electronics maker Sanyo Electric Co. warned of a 90 billion yen net loss for the year ending March 2009, hurt by the worsening global recession. This compares to its earlier forecast that it would breakeven. The company's stock dropped 1.44%.

In Sydney, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 29.30 points, or 0.82% to close at 3,609, and the broader All Ordinaries Index moved up 0.82%, or 28.90 points, to end at 3,546.

Financials advanced on hopes that the plan unveiled by the U.S to remove toxic assets from banks' balance sheet will help the global financial sector to stabilize sooner than expected. Australia and NZ Bank advanced 4.52%, National Australia Bank rose 3.63%, Westpac Bank added 2.97% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia increased 3.26%. However, investment bank Macquarie Group declined 4.68%.

In the resources sector, mining conglomerates ended on a mixed note after commodity prices declined in London Metals Exchange on Tuesday.

While BHP Billiton declined 1.51%, rival Rio Tinto gained 1.24% after the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission stated that the proposed investment by Aluminum Corp. of China in Rio Tinto will not affect the iron ore, copper, bauxite and alumina markets. Resource company Alumina Ltd surged up 8.07%. Oz Minerals gained more than 7% following the news that the bankers might extend loans to the company even as the Regulators sought more time to review the takeover proposal from China Minimetals Group.

Gold miners ended mostly weak after gold closed lower for a third straight session overnight. Newcrest lost 2.54% and Lihir Gold declined 3.04%. However, Sino Gold advanced 2.16%.

Following the modest gain in crude oil price overnight, oil stock Woodside Petroleum gained 2.29%, Santos advanced 4.90% and Oil Search rose 2.76%.

Retail stocks ended mostly higher. While Wesfarmers gained 3.53%, Harvey Norman rose 1.56% and David Jones added 1.06%, Woolworths dropped 0.28%.

In Hong Kong, the benchmark Hang Seng Index decreased 288.23 points, or 2.07%, to close at 13,622. Almost all the stocks, which witnessed a rally in the past few trading sessions, ended lower on profit taking.

Among financials, HSBC Holdings fell 4.69%, Hang Seng Bank lost 2.65%, BOC Hong Kong decreased 2.30%, Bank of East Asia shed 2.68% and Bank of Communications dropped 1.66%. However, Bank of China gained 1.68%.

Insurance stocks ended lower. Ping An lost 4.74%, and China Life decreased 1.74%.

In telecom space, Hutchison Whimpoa fell 2.60%, Tencent declined 5.72% and China Mobile lost 0.30%.

Resource stocks also ended weaker. Aluminum Company of China, or Chalco, decreased 2.76%. CNOOC shed 4.94% and Petrochina slipped 0.30%.

Among china-related stocks, China Overseas fell 3.53% and China Resources edged down 0.16%.

Utility stocks ended mixed. While HK Electric advanced 1.06%, HK & China Gas fell 0.17%.

The benchmark KOSPI Index in South Korea ended higher by 7.32 points or 0.60% at 1,229 driven by expectations that liquidity in the market will increase following measures taken by the government.

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs has revealed that rules governing investment in domestic stock markets by the country's largest institutional investor, the National Pension Service, has been relaxed. The pension service is now allowed to invest in a range between 10% and 24% of its total assets in domestic markets, as against its previous range between 12% and 22%.

Meanwhile, data released by the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association revealed that auto exports to Eastern Europe plunged sharply by 70.7% during February 2009 to 11,216 vehicles. The head of the Korea Development Institute, Hyun Oh-seok, stated that the country's economy is presently accumulating energy and might rebound from the second half of the year.

Financial stocks ended mixed. While Shinhan Financial Group fell 0.92%, KB Financial, the holding firm of Kookmin Bank, advanced 0.43%, and Woori Finance gained 0.92%.

Among shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries gained 1.95%, Daewoo Ship building advanced 2.22% and Samsung Heavy Industries rise 2.99%.

Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics lost 0.54%. In the technology space, while Hynix Semiconductor fell 1.92%, LG Electronics and LG Display advanced 2.06% and 2.36% respectively.

Oil-related stocks advanced. SK Holdings gained 3.69%, and S-oil moved up 0.68%.

Among the other major markets, China's Shanghai Composite Index declined 2%, or 46.86 points, to 2,292, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index fell 13.51 points, or 0.94% to 1,423, and Singapore's Strait Times Index lost 0.93%, or 15.87 points, to 1,690. However, the Taiwan Weighted Index gained 1.99%, or 104.20 points, to 5,346.

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