Asian markets are trading mixed on Wednesday with investors treading a cautious path ahead of the release of the stress tests results conducted on as many as 19 major U.S. banks. With some corporate results turning out to be better-than-expected and economic indicators somewhat encouraging, cues from Wall Street are not negative but then, they are not significantly positive either.
With investors choosing to take profits after recent strong gains, some markets in the Asia-Pacific region have declined after a positive start.
The Australian benchmark index S&P/ASX 200, which had edged up after a subdued start, is down in the red at 3,871, lower by 19.9 points from its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is trading 19.2 points down at 3,843.
Energy, consumer staples, materials and utilities stocks are trading weak in the Australian market. Bank stocks have shed gains and are trading mixed now. Telecommunications stocks are up marginally.
The New Zealand benchmark NZX 50 is up 0.50% or 14.16 points at 2,833.
The Korean benchmark index KOSPI, which had moved up after a flat start, is currently trading 4.51 points down at 1,393.
Bank and steel stocks are trading higher. Airlines are also trading firm. Automobile stocks are trading lower. Oil, shipbuilding and technology stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.
Among other markets in the region, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore are trading modestly higher. The Taiwan market is up sharply with the Taiwan Weighted index surging by as much as 2.7%. The Indonesian market is trading marginally lower.
Most of the markets in the Asia-Pacific region ended on a firm note on Tuesday, extending their recent gains. The Japanese and Korean markets remained closed.
The major European markets turned in a mixed performance, as stocks in London played catch up after the market was closed on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped 2.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index fell 0.4 percent and the German DAX Index fell 1.0 percent.
On Tuesday, Wall Street saw some hectic profit taking after the splendid rally stocks had staged in the previous session. Still, the slide was not significantly sharp as the undertone remained fairly positive following some confident remarks from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The major averages staged a notable recovery attempt in late-day trading but still ended the session modestly lower. The Dow closed down 16.09 points and the Nasdaq ended 9.44 points down. The S&P 500 closed down 3.44 points.
Crude oil prices dropped off of a five-month high on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday as investors awaited the Energy Information Administration's weekly inventory data. Experts are predicting a 10th straight weekly build in stockpiles.
Light sweet crude oil for June delivery dropped to $53.84, down 63 cents on the session. Prices touched as low as $53.50 earlier in the session after earlier hitting as high as $54.83.
The Fed Chairman testified before the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, noting that recent data has suggested that the pace of contraction in the U.S. economy may be slowing.
He said recent data shows some signs that the beleaguered housing market may be bottoming and noted that the available indicators of business investment remain extremely weak.
Looking forward, Bernanke said economic activity is expected to bottom out then turn up later this year. Nonetheless, he noted that the rate of growth of real economic activity is likely to remain below its longer-run potential for a while.
According to a release from the Institute for Supply Management, ISM's index of activity in the service sector rose to 43.7 in April from 40.8 in March, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction in the sector. Economists had been expecting a more modest increase to a reading of 42.2.
The release of Automatic Data Processing's (ADP) report on private sector employment in the month of April could shed some light on the strength of the Labor Department's monthly employment report.
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