The major markets across Asia-Pacific region are trading lower on Wednesday, taking cues from Wall Street where the major indices declined for the second consecutive day as traders expressed some anxiety about the upcoming earning season and stocks' ability to sustain the recent upward move in light of expectations of weak quarterly results.
On Tuesday, the Dow closed down 186.29 points or 2.3% at 7,790, while the Nasdaq closed down 45.10 points or 2.8% at 1,562 and the S&P 500 closed down 19.93 points or 2.4% at 816.
Alcoa, which kickstarted the earnings season in the U.S., released first quarter results after the markets closed, reporting a net loss that was worse than analysts' expectations, with the company attributing the loss to the weakness in its core industrial and commercial markets as well as the historic decline in aluminum prices.
In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $1.03 at $48.12 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed down $1.90 at $49.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday amid demand concerns on signs of a deepening global economic downturn. Traders now look forward to the weekly inventory report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration or EIA, due out later in the day.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is currently trading at 8,594, down 238.96 points, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is losing 17.93 points to 815.
On the economic front, preliminary data released by the Ministry of Finance revealed that current account surplus for February slumped 55.6% to 1.117 trillion yen from the same period last year. The trade balance was 202.1 billion yen, down 80.4% on year as imports fell a record 44.9% and exports plummeted 50.4% - also a record. Analysts had expected a trade surplus of 142 billion yen following the 844.4 billion yen deficit in January.
Almost all the stocks are trading in negative territory as traders continued to take profit following a recent rally.
Among the major exporters, Canon is losing 5.32%, Sony is falling 4.34% and Sharp is down 6.12%. Trading houses are also trading weaker. Mitsubishi Corp. is down 1.97%, Sumitomo Corp. is falling 3.14% and Itochu is losing 3.77%.
Oil stocks are trading weak on lower crude oil prices. Inpex is down 2.88%, Showa Shell is falling 2.31%, and Nippon Oil is losing 2.63%.
Among automakers, Honda Motor is down 1.78% and Isuzu Motors is losing 4.23%. Toyota Motor is edging up 1.07%.
Mixed trend is being witnessed among financials. Mitsubishi UFJ is losing 3.16%, Sumitomo Mitsui is decreasing 3.36% and Resona Holdings is slipping 2.24%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is declining 2.24%. However, bucking the trend, Mizuho Financial is edging up 0.50%.
In Sydney, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is losing 78.6 points to 3,268, and the broader All Ordinaries index is down 75 points to 3,575.
On the economic front, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute's survey of consumer sentiment for April showed that Australian consumer confidence surged up 8.3% to 92.7 points in April.
Among banking stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down 3.22%, ANZ Banking Group is losing 2.76%, and National Australia Bank is falling 4.16%. Westpac is slipping 0.59%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is dropping 5.70%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is losing 2.20%, while Rio Tinto is edging up 0.60%. Gold miners are trading mixed. Lihir Gold is adding 1.36% and Newcrest Mining is gaining 0.87%. However, Sino Gold is moving down 0.58%.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is falling 3.09%, Oil Search is edging down 0.38%, and Santos is losing 2.35%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is dropping 2.05%, Coles' owner Wesfarmers is falling 2.70%, and Woolworths is losing 0.68%.
In Seoul, the benchmark KOSPI Index is currently trading at 1,272, down 28.35 points, or 2.24%.
On economic front, a report released by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and the Korea Plant Industries Association revealed that industrial plant orders plunged 61.3% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2009 to US$ 4.9 billion from US$11.2 billion reported last year, as businesses and government tightened spending amid the global economic crisis.
Financials are trading weak. KB Financial Group is losing 2.70%, Shinhan Financial is falling 2.60% and Woori Finance is moving down 2.59%.
Technology stocks are trading weak. Hynix Semiconductor is losing 1.05%, LG Electronics is falling 1.44%, and LG Display is moving down 2.05%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is falling 3.25%.
Among the shipbuilders, Hyundai Heavy Industries is falling 4.45% and Daewoo Shipping is losing 2.39%. However, Samsung Heavy Industries is edging up 0.36%.
In the auto space, Hyundai Motor is down 1.44%, and Kia Motor is falling 1.87%. However, Ssangyong Motor, which, later in the day, is expected to announce large-scale job cuts as part of its restructuring program, is advancing 7.92%.
Among oil-related stocks, S-Oil is losing 1.87% while SK Holdings is trading unchanged from previous close.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index is presently trading at 14,335, down 594.17 points, or 3.98%.
All the 42 components of the index, except two, are trading in negative territory.
Bank stocks are the major losers. HSBC Holdings is losing 5.08%, Hang Seng Bank is down 2.45%, Bank of Communications is falling 5.74%, Bank of China is decreasing 3.30% and Bank of East Asia is down 2.23%. Other banks are also trading in negative territory.
Insurance stocks are trading weak. Ping An is down 4.32% and China Life is losing 2.56%.
Among property stocks, Henderson Land is down 4.56%, Wharf Holdings is slipping 1.20%, SHK Properties is falling 2.94%, New World Development is declining 4.22% and Sino Land is losing 4.96%. Other property stocks such as Hang Lung Property and Sinopec Corp. are also trading lower on profit taking.
Resource stocks are trading lower. Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, is losing 5.09%, CNOOC is falling 3.65% and PetroChina is down 4.85%.
China-related stocks are also trading weak. China Resources is down 2.66%, China Mercantile Holdings is losing 3.45% and China Overseas is falling 3.42%.
Among the other major markets, China's Shanghai Composite Index is down 2.01% or 49.09 points at 2,390, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index is losing 8.28 points or 0.56% at 1,483, Singapore's Strait Times Index is falling 36.73 points or 2.04% at 1,766, and Taiwan's Weighed Index is at 5,489, down 1.58% or 87.85 points.
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