Asian stock markets are mostly trading weak on Friday with investors tracking cues from Wall Street where stocks drifted lower overnight amid renewed worries about the global economy following some weak data from China and Europe. Though some of the markets are off their early lows, the mood remains quite cautious in the region.
After a sharp setback in early trades, the Australian market recovered most of the lost ground with investors picking up stocks at lower levels. Bank and energy stocks are trading higher, while mining stocks are trading weak. Healthcare and property trusts stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,238.4 in early trades, is now down 12.1 points or 0.3 percent at 4.261.6. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 13.4 points or 0.3 percent at 4,331.5, well off an early low of 4,329.3.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac are trading modestly higher, while National Australia Bank is down marginally. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down 0.4 percent, while Bank of Queensland is up marginally.
Among miners, BHP Billiton is down 1.2 percent and Rio Tinto is losing 1.8 percent. Fortescue Metals is down with a loss of 1.6 percent, while Newcrest Mining is trading 1.2 percent down.
In the energy sector, Santos and Caltex Australia are trading lower by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent respectively. Woodside Petroleum is gaining 1.3 percent, while Oil Search and Origin Energy are up with modest gains.
Aquarius Platinum and Lynas Corporation are trading lower by 5.4 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. QR National is down nearly 3.5 percent following the company cutting its full-year earnings forecast. Iluka Resources, Perseus Mining and Panaust are also trading lower by over 3 percent.
Spark Infrastructure Group, Macquarie Group and Goodman Group are down 2 to 2.2 percent. Qantas Airways, CSR, Incitec Pivot, Atlas Iron, Fairfax Media and Ansell are also trading notably lower.
QBE Insurance Group shares are up more than 2 percent. Brambles, Sydney Airport and Ramsay Healthcare are also trading notably higher.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower on weak global sentiment. In early trades, the Aussie was quoting at US$1.0385, down 0.3 percent from Thursday's close of US$1.0417.
The Japanese market posted sharp losses in morning trades with investors pressing sales almost across the board, tracking the overnight negative close on Wall Street. The yen's surge against the U.S. dollar too contributed to the slide to a notable extent.
Steel, non-ferrous metals, automobile, financial, manufacturing and chemicals stocks were trading notably lower at the break. Electric power stocks traded firm, while railway, oil and retail stocks displayed a mixed trend.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 99.4 points or nearly a percent at 10,027.7 when the morning session ended.
Ricoh, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Nitto Boseki, Alps Electric, Mitsumi Electric, Hitachi Zosen Corp and Pioneer Corp lost 2.5 to 3.3 percent.
Sony Corp, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Taiyo Yuden, Nomura Holdings, Advantest, Kobe Steel, Fujikura, Konami Corp and Fujitsu drifted lower by over 2 percent.
Casio Computer, Sumitomo Chemical, Bridgestone, JFE Holdings, Sharp Corp, Toho Zinc, Sumitomo Metal Industries, Pacific Metals, Nippon Steel, Mitsui Mining and Nippon Steel also posted notable losses.
Among automobile stocks, Honda Motor and Mazda Motor lost more than 2 percent. Nissan Motor, Isuzu Motors, Suzuki Motor and Hino Motors also moved down to notably lower levels.
In the banking space, Shinsei Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Aozora Bank and Shizuoka Bank traded weak.
Tokyo Electric Power, Tokyo Dome Corp and Kansai Electric Power gained more than 2 percent. Chugai Pharmaceutical, Fuji Electric, Sapporo Holdings, Chubu Electric Power, Central Japan Railway and Softbank also edged higher.
According to reports, Japanese securities regulators raided the offices of AIJ Investment Advisors Co as part of their investigation into billions of dollars of missing pension funds. The regulator has reportedly canceled the registration of AIJ Investment Advisors following the firm's failure to account for most of the 185.3 billion yen of pension assets it managed as of March 2011.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-82 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 82.90 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong and New Zealand are trading notably lower. South Korea and Taiwan are down with modest losses, while Malaysia and Singapore are trading in positive territory. Markets across the region turned in a lackluster performance and ended on a mixed note on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks ended mostly lower despite some upbeat U.S. economic data on Thursday as renewed worries about the global economic outlook weighed on the markets.
The major averages ended the session off their worst levels of the day but still closed firmly in the red. The Dow ended down 78.5 points or 0.6 percent to 13,046.1, the Nasdaq drifted down 12 points or 0.4 percent to 3,063.3 and the S&P 500 dropped 10.1 points or 0.7 percent to 1,392.8.
Major European markets ended notably lower on Thursday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index declined 0.8 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index lost 1.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures settled lower on Thursday, amid concerns of an economic slowdown following some disappointing manufacturing data from China. Speculation that some of the big nations may be considering release of strategic oil reserves too weighed on sentiment.
Crude for May delivery dropped $1.92 or 1.8 percent to close at $105.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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