The major markets across the Asia-Pacific region are trading weaker on Tuesday, taking cues from Wall Street where the major indices ended lower on Monday following negative comments by analysts on financial stocks. Technology stocks ended weak following the fallout of the talks between IBM and Sun Microsystems. Veteran banking analyst Mike Mayo of Calyon Securities initiated coverage of several banks with either Sell or Underperform ratings, citing concerns about increased loan losses and the belief that government actions might not help as much as expected. Financial stocks led the declines on Wall Street.
The Dow closed Monday's session down 41.74 points or 0.5% at 7,976, the Nasdaq closed down 15.16 points or 0.9% at 1,607 and the S&P 500 closed down 7.02 points or 0.8% at 835.
In Asian trading, crude oil is currently down $0.10 at $50.95 a barrel in electronic trading. Light sweet crude for May delivery closed down $1.46 at $51.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday over demand concerns. Traders now look forward to Wednesday's Department of Energy inventory report.
In Japan, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index, having opened weaker at 8,834 compared to its previous close of 8,858, is currently trading at 8,871, up 13.17 points, and the broader Topix index of all First Section Issues is gaining 4.49 points to 835.
The Bank of Japan has decided to leave the overnight lending rate at 0.1%. The bank, in an effort to ease credit, has decided to accept loans on deeds to municipal government as eligible collateral security from lenders.
Automakers are trading in positive territory on expectations of global recovery. However, financials are mostly lower on concerns about loss on equity investments. Oil-related stocks and exporters pared their gains
Among the automakers, Honda Motor is advancing 2.91%, Isuzu Motors is gaining 2.88%, and Toyota Motor is edging up 0.27%.
Financial stocks are trading mixed. Mitsubishi UFJ is losing 0.97%, and Sumitomo Mitsui is decreasing 0.55%. However, Mizuho Financial is trading unchanged and Resona Holdings is gaining 1.43%. Brokerage Nomura Holdings is down 0.17%.
Exporters are also trading mixed. While Canon is down 0.64% and Sharp is losing 0.46%, Sony is gaining 1.03%. Trading houses, however, are trading higher. Mitsubishi Corp. is rising 0.41%, Sumitomo Corp. is edging up 0.76% and Itochu is advancing 2.49%.
Oil stocks are trading weaker on lower crude oil prices. Inpex is down 1.88%, Showa Shell is falling 1.50%, and Nippon Oil is losing 3.68%.
In Sydney, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is losing 25.7 points to 3,731 and the broader All Ordinaries index is down 26.9 points to 3,670.
On the economic front, the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association's Performance of Construction index for March registered a reading of 30.4, a gain of 0.9 points from the February reading but still below the 50.0 mark that separates expansion in the sector from contraction.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has decided to lower the cash rate by 0.25% to 3.00% with effect from April 8, 2009.
Among financial stocks, ANZ Banking Group is losing 1.34%, and National Australia Bank is falling 2.16%. However, Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.22% and Westpac is adding 0.39%. Investment bank Macquarie Group is dropping 2.29%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is losing 3.24%, and Rio Tinto is falling 8.60%. Gold miners are trading mixed. While Lihir Gold is gaining 1.37%, Sino Gold is falling 1.33%, and Newcrest Mining is losing 1.16%.
Among energy stocks, Woodside is edging down 0.55%, Oil Search is losing 4.17%, and Santos is falling 1.31%.
In the retail sector, David Jones is edging down 0.69%, while Coles' owner Wesfarmers is adding 0.94%, and Woolworths is gaining 0.87%.
Telephone company Telstra Corp Ltd is rising 4.7% after the government announced plans to build a new A$43 billion national high-speed fibre-optic broadband network. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the government would ask private companies join a new private-public firm to build the network. Project will support 37,000 jobs.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index opened weaker at 14,922, compared to its previous close of 14,998, and is presently trading at 14,819, down 179.35 points, or 1.20%.
Among property stocks, Henderson Land is down 2.14%, Wharf Holdings is losing 3.64%, SHK Properties is falling 2.03%, New World Development is declining 3.79% and Sino Land is edging down 1.43%. Other property stocks such as Hang Lung Property and Sinopec Corp. are also trading lower on profit taking.
Among banking stocks, HSBC Holdings is down 2.31%, BOC Hong Kong is 2.67%, and Bank of Communications is edging down 0.33%. However, Bank of East Asia is moving up 2.42% and ICBC is edging up 0.24%.
Insurance stocks are trading weaker. Ping An is down 3.22% and China Life is declining 1.45%.
Resource stocks are trading lower. Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, is losing 6.88%, CNOOC is falling 3.54% and PetroChina is down 2.23%.
China-related stocks are trading mixed. While China Resources is rising 1.18%, China Mercantile Holdings is losing 3.14% and China Overseas is moving down 1.37%.
The benchmark KOSPI Index opened Tuesday's session at 1,296, lower than its previous close of 1,298, and is currently trading at 1,295, down 3.29 points, or 0.25%.
Financials are trading lower on concerns about loss on equity investments. KB Financial Group is losing 2.77%, Shinhan Financial is falling 4.37% and Woori Finance is moving down 0.57%.
Shipbuilders are also trading weak on profit taking. Hyundai Heavy Industries is falling 3.20%, Samsung Heavy Industries is down 1.43%, and Daewoo Shipping is losing 1.30%.
Technology stocks are trading mixed. Hynix Semiconductor is losing 77% and LG Electronics is edging down 0.10%, but LG Display is adding 0.64%. Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is falling 1.68%.
Among the automakers, Hyundai Motor is down 0.16%, and Kia Motor is falling 1.68%. However, Ssangyong Motor is advancing 14.77%.
Oil-related stocks are trading mixed. While SK Holdings is down 1.25%, S-Oil is trading unchanged at previous close.
Among the other major markets, China's Shanghai Composite Index is gaining 11.80 points, or 0.49% to 2,432, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index is losing 29.08 points, or 1.92% to 1,488, Singapore's Strait Times Index is down 40.07 points, or 2.17% at 1,808, and Taiwan's Weighted Index is down 0.82% or 45.55 points at 5,511.
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