RTTNews - Asian markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Wednesday with participants making cautious moves amid concerns over the state of the U.S. economy. A decline in U.S. consumer confidence had sent stock prices drifting lower on Wall Street on Tuesday, and taking cues, investors in markets across the Asia-Pacific region were seen pressing sales in early trading this morning.
However, most of the markets are off their lows now with some of them even making it to positive territory on the back of some hectic buying at lower levels in bank and technology stocks.
The Australian market is trading lower with some weak economic data hurting sentiment to a significant extent. The country's manufacturing activity continued to weaken throughout June although the pace of decline eased a bit.
According to a release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian building approvals fell 12.5% to 9,953 units in May, seasonally adjusted from a downwardly revised 11,374 units in April.
The benchmark S&P/ASX is down in the red at 3,873, lower by nearly 82 points from its previous close. The All Ordinaries index is trading 78 points down at 3,869.8.
Energy, materials, bank and healthcare stocks are down sharply in the red. Consumer discretionary and consumer staples stocks are also trading weak.
Key materials stocks Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Orica, Fortescue Metals and Bluescope are down with sharp losses. Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy and Santos are also trading lower.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation are trading with sharp losses. Diversified financials stock Macquarie Group is down by as much as 4.1%.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei rebounded after early weakness as investors, after some initial hesitancy, reacted positively to the tankan survey released by Bank of Japan. The Nikkei, which opened 0.7% down at 9,889 and slid further to 9,874 in early trades, is currently up with a modest gain of 35 points or 0.37% at 9,993.
According to the survey, Japanese business sentiment remained bearish in June but improved from March. The headline diffusion index of sentiment among Japan's largest manufacturers was minus 48, ten points better than the March reading. The improvement was attributed to a slowdown in sharp output cuts due to progress in inventory adjustments. Cash flow also improved, partly thanks to measures taken by the government and the central bank.
Construction machinery stocks gained ground, buoyed by China's Purchasing Managers' Index for June rising 0.1 points from May to 53.2, marking the first improvement in two months and surpassing the vital threshold of 50 for the fourth straight month.
Machinery and electric machinery stocks are mostly trading lower. In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Sumitomo Trust and Banking are up in positive territory while Fukuoka Financial, Shizuoka Bank, Chiba Bank, Resona Holdings and Chuo Mitsui Trust Holdings are trading sharply lower.
Insurance stocks Mitsui Sumitomo, Sompo Japan Insurance, T&D Holdings and Tokio Marine Holdings are down with notable losses. Real estate and communications stocks are exhibiting a mixed trend.
In the South Korean market, bank and technology stocks are trading firm. Automobiles, steel and energy stocks are trading mixed. Shipbuilders are trading weak.
The Korean benchmark index KOSPI, which had drifted down to 1,381 in early trading, is currently up with a gain of 11 points at 1,401.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia and Taiwan are trading modestly higher. The New Zealand and Singapore markets are exhibiting weakness. The Hong Kong market is closed today on account of Special Administration Region Day.
Despite a slightly positive start, Wall Street ended lower Tuesday as fears of a prolonged recession and job losses dented consumer confidence and rendered the mood bearish. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence index fell to 49.3 points in June from a revised 54.8 in May.
The Dow ended down by 82.38 points or 1% at 8,447, the Nasdaq dipped by 9.02 points or 0.5% to 1,835, and the S&P 500 fell 7.91 points or 0.9% to 919.
Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region had ended Tuesday's session on a mixed note. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed up by 1.8%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slid 0.8%.
Major European markets closed firmly on the downside, with the German DAX Index and French CAC 40 Index finishing down by 1.6% and 1.7%, respectively. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index also fell, showing a decrease of 1%.
Oil prices sank from eight-month peaks today after new data signaled a plunge in consumer confidence in the U.S., the world's largest energy consumer. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, tumbled US$1.60 from yesterday's closing price to US$69.89 per barrel, after earlier touching US$73.38 - a level unseen since October.
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