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Asian Markets Exhibit Mixed Trend

Asian markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Monday with investors mostly treading cautiously amid worries about the global economy. Some of the markets in the region are trading higher, due largely to bargain hunting after recent losses. The mood is quite subdued in a few markets in the region with the recent U.S. jobs data hurting sentiment to an extent.

In the Australian market, energy, mining, financial, information technology and consumer discretionary stocks are mostly trading weak. Healthcare and industrial stocks are also drifting lower on selling pressure.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,274.5 in early trades, is currently down 30.4 points or 0.7 percent at 4,289.4. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 30.3 points or 0.7 percent at 4,372, off an early low of 4,357.3.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.5 to 1 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down 1.3 percent, while Bank of Queensland is up marginally.

Among top miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are trading lower by 0.4 to 1 percent.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum is down 2.2 percent, Oil Search is trading 2 percent lower, Santos is down with a loss of 1.8 percent, Origin Energy is losing about 0.8 percent and Caltex Australia is down 1.4 percent.

Aquarius Platinum is down by over 4 percent. Lynas Corp., Challenger, Bluescope Steel and Lend Lease are all trading lower by 2.5 to 3 percent.

Sims Metal Management, Resmed Inc., WorleyParsons, News Corp. and Fairfax Media are down 2 to 2.5 percent. CSL, Alumina, Iluka Resources, Boral and Computershare are also trading notably lower.

Meanwhile, Whitehaven Coal, Spark Infrastructure Group and Downer EDI are trading firm, gaining 2.3 to 3.5 percent.

Leighton Holdings Ltd. shares are down 1.5 percent after it announced that Leightons Asia has won a contract worth A$420 million to provide mining services to PT Marunda Grahamineral's coal mining project in Borneo. The project, located in the Laung Tuhup of Central Kalimantan's Murung Raya Regency, involves the annual extraction of more than two million tonnes of thermal and coking coal.

Energy Resources of Australia shares are up 2 percent after the company revised its production forecast. The company said it expects its uranium oxide production to be between 3,200 and 3,700 tonnes in 2012.

On the economic front, activity in Australia's construction sector picked up slightly in March but remained in sharp contraction, according to survey results published Tuesday by the Australian Industry Group. AIG's Performance of Construction index for March was 36.2, an increase of 0.6 points from February.

The AIG report said new orders in the sector declined for a 22nd straight month. "Large parts of the national construction industry remained stuck in the doldrums," said AIG Public Policy Director Peter Burn. "Very weak conditions continue in the house and apartment building and commercial construction sectors."

According to the ANZ job advertisements survey, job advertisements rose for a third consecutive month, in a sign that hiring intentions by businesses are continuing to improve. Total job advertisements on the internet and in major metropolitan newspapers rose 1.0 percent in March, the survey revealed. That follows a 3.3 percent rise in job ads in February and a 7.5 percent rise in January. In the year to March, job ads were up 2.8 percent and are now at their highest level since November 2008.

The Japanese market opened on a firm note on Tuesday despite a negative lead from Wall Street, with investors picking up stocks after five successive days of losses. The yen's marginal decline against the U.S. dollar too contributed to the higher start.

Financial, real estate, textiles and insurance stocks opened higher and are still mostly trading in positive territory. Shares from gas, railway, communications and services sectors are trading mixed.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 9,648.1, was up 74 points or 0.8 percent at 9,620.3 when the morning session ended.

UNY Co. Ltd shares gained nearly 8 percent. Ebara Corp was trading stronger by almost 6 percent at the break.

Hitachi Construction Machinery, Advantest Corp, T&D Holdings, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Nippon Light Metals, Matsui Securities, Fuji Heavy Industries, Taiyo Yuden, Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Sumitomo Realty & Development were all up 2.5 to 4 percent.

Nomura Holdings, Showa Denko KK, Sumco Corp, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Taiheiyo Cement and Sony Financial Holdings also posted sharp gains. Mitsui Fudosan moved up after the company raised its earnings forecast.

Toyota Motor Corp shares gained nearly 2 percent after Nomura Holdings Inc. raised the stock's target price. Isuzu Motors, Hino Motors, Suzuki Motor, Nissan Motor, Honda Motor, Mazda Motor and Mitsubishi Motor were all up 2 to 4 percent.

In the banking space, SMFG, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Aozora Bank, Bank of Yokohama and Shinsei Bank gained 1 to 2 percent and Mizuho Financial was up nearly 2.5 percent, while Shizuoka Bank gained modest ground in positive territory.

Meanwhile, Sharp Corp, Nippon Yusen, Osaka Gas, Chiyoda Corp, Takara Holdings, JX Holdings, Sony Corp and Yokogawa Electric were trading notably lower.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 81 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 81.72 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai and Hong Kong are trading notably lower and New Zealand is down marginally. Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are all trading higher. Markets across the region ended weak on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks ended notably lower on Monday with traders reacting negatively to Friday's monthly jobs report.

Despite climbing off their worst levels of the day, the major averages ended the session firmly in the red. The Dow ended down 130.5 points or 1 percent at 12,929.6, the Nasdaq dropped 33.4 points or 1.1 percent to 3,047.1 and the S&P 500 slid 15.9 points or 1.1 percent to 1,382.2.

U.S. crude oil futures closed at a seven-week low on Monday amid demand concerns following some soft U.S. jobs data last week and a disappointing consumer price inflation report from China for March. Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, dropped $0.85 or 0.8 percent to close at $102.46 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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