Japan's benchmark index, the Nikkei 225 average, opened on a positive note today, as Canon Inc, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor posted handsome gains in early trading. However, with investors turning cautious and pressing some sales in financials, choosing to wait for more details regarding the current status of major U.S. banks, the benchmark is now down in negative territory.
The Nikkei, which slipped to 8,648 earlier, is currently down 53.28 points at 8,674.
Leading financial stock Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is down with a small loss following U.S. investment bank Morgan Stanley booking a net loss of $177 million dollars in the January - March quarter.
Shares of Mitsui & Co have tumbled for once again. The stock is down by over 5% on reports the group net profit for the year ended March is likely to drop significantly to 180 billion yen. The firm has also said that it will forego a year-end dividend payment.
Automobile giants Honda Motors, Nissan and Suzuki Motor Corp are trading with sharp gains. Bank stocks are mostly trading weak, with Sumitomo Trust, Shizuoka Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Mitsubushi UFJ Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group suffering sharp losses. Nomura, Japan's largest brokerage, is down with a sharp loss on reports it may post a net loss of 700 billion yen for the financial year that ended in March.
Insurance stocks Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group, Tokio Marine Holdings and T&D Holdings are down in the red. Communications stocks KDDI and NTT DoCoMo are trading higher with impressive gains. Pharma and retail stocks are trading mixed, while real estate stocks are trading lower.
Among the other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, the Australian stock market is trading firm with material stocks posting strong gains. The New Zealand market is trading marginally down and the Korean benchmark is down with a small loss.
In currency trading, the Yen is trading around 97.9 to the U.S. dollar.
Wall Street had some surprises yesterday, with AT&T, McDonald's and Yahoo! beating earnings estimates. And there were at least a couple of disappointing report cards as well with Boeing and Morgan Stanley reeling out numbers that fell short of expectations.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner hinted that policymakers might be forced to alter their recovery strategies as the global financial crisis drags on. He explained that the revised estimate from the International Monetary Fund for global growth could spark a change in policy. The IMF lowered its 2009 outlook, now predicating a contraction of 1.3 percent for the year compared to its previous estimate of 0.5 percent growth.
We may have to adapt our policies further as conditions evolve, and we need to make sure we provide a scale of support that matches the intensity of the challenge, Geithner said.
While Dow ended lower by 83 points, the Nasdaq composite index edged up marginally. The S&P 500 closed with a small loss.
Crude oil reversed early declines and after trading flat for a major part of the session, ended marginally higher at $48.98 a barrel.
Once again, corporate earnings will be eyed with some big firms including Marriott International, Hershey and UPS reporting today. From the economic front, the weekly jobless claims data and existing home sales numbers will give direction to the market.
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