Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend with investors mostly treading cautiously amid worries about the economic situation in the Eurozone. Though most of the markets moved higher after a slightly flat start, some of them are currently trading well off their highs with investors trimming down positions, choosing to wait for earnings reports.
After a fairly smart upmove, the Australian market has pared most of its gains with investors treading cautiously at higher levels.
Consumer discretionary, healthcare and information technology stocks are mostly trading higher. Financial stocks are off their early highs. Energy and mining stocks, which edged higher after a slightly weak start, are coming off their highs due to lack of support.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rallied to 4,321.4 after edging down to 4,301.7 in early trades, is currently up just 2.7 points at 4,305. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 2.5 points at 4,385, off the day's high of 4,400.6.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac are trading flat, while National Australia Bank is up nearly a percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are up 0.7 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Among miners, BHP Billiton, Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are down marginally, while Rio Tinto is trading modestly higher.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy are down 0.3 to 0.5 percent, while Oil Search and Caltex Australia are trading in positive territory, gaining 0.5 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
Lynas Corporation is trading higher by over 4.5 percent. Incitec Pivot is up nearly 3.5 percent. CSL, Macquarie Group, Fairfax Media and Seek are up 2 to 2.6 percent.
Goodman Group, Computershare, Crown, Lend Lease Group, David Jones, Harvey Norman Holdings, Bluescope Steel and QR National are also trading notably higher.
Downer EDI Limited shares are up 0.3 percent. The company has won an A$85 million contract to carry out electrical work on a new cancer research centre in Melbourne.
Billabong International Limited shares are up 0.7 percent following an announcement from the company that it has completed an A$276 million sale of almost half of its Nixon accessories brand.
Paladin Energy is down more than 4.5 percent. Aquarius Platinum is down with a loss of over 3 percent. James Hardie Industries, Challenger and Iluka Resources are also trading notably lower.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, sales of new motor vehicles in Australia rose four percent in March. 89,964 new vehicles were sold in the month, seasonally adjusted, compared to an upwardly revised 86,203 in February, the data showed. In the year to March, new motor vehicle sales rose four percent, seasonally adjusted.
The Japanese stock market was a bit sluggish, with stocks swinging between gains and losses amid cautious trades. While the overnight positive close of the Dow aided sentiment, the yen's rise against the dollar appeared to be prompting a section of investors to indulge in some selling.
Automobile, marine transport, insurance, oil and financial stocks edged higher in early trades, but came off their highs subsequently. Shares from electric power, precision instruments, manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors were slightly weak.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 9,520, was up by around 17 points or 0.2 percent at 9,487.6 when the morning session ended.
Itochu Corp, Softbank Corp, Pioneer Corp, Daiwa Securities Group, Mitsubishi Electric, J Front Retailing, Marui Group, Yahoo Japan, Yokohama Group and Mitsumi Electric rose 2 to 3 percent before paring some gains.
Oki Electric Industry, Toho Zinc, Fuji Heavy Industries, Fujitsu, Heiwa Real Estate, Konami Corp, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, T&D Holdings and Trend Micro also moved higher.
Among bank stocks, Aozora Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial, Shinsei Bank and SMFG gained 0.7 to 1.5 percent, while Bank of Yokohama, Mizuho Financial and Chiba Bank traded weak.
In the automobile space, Hino Motors, Nissan Motor, Isuzu Motors and Toyota Motor posted modest gains. Honda Motor and Toyota Motor drifted lower, while Mazda Motor and Mitsubishi Motor traded flat.
Olympus Corp. shares lost over 2.5 percent on reports that two board members of the company are likely to remain division heads after resigning as directors.
Terumo Corp, Kansai Electric Power, Osaka Gas, Chubu Electric Power, Nippon Light Metal, Nisshin Steel, Sharp Corp, Sony Corp and Mitsubishi Chemical also drifted lower.
On the economic front, Japan is scheduled to release final February figures for industrial production, highlighting a modest day for Asia-Pacific economic activity. Little change is expected from the preliminary reading that showed an increase of 1.5 percent on year and a contraction of 1.2 percent on month, plus an increase of 3.4 percent on year in capacity utilization.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-80 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 80.46 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia, Malaysia and New Zealand are trading in positive territory with modest gains. Meanwhile, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are trading weak. Markets across the region ended mostly lower on Monday.
On Wall Street, stocks turned in a mixed performance on Monday amid a mixed batch of U.S. economic data. While the Dow ended up 71.8 points or 0.6 percent at 12,921.4, the Nasdaq drifted down 22.9 points or 0.8 percent to 2,988.4 and the S&P 500 edged down 0.7 points or 0.1 percent to 1,369.6.
Major European markets moved higher on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index moved up 0.3 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index gained 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures closed slightly higher on Monday. Crude for May delivery ended up $0.10 or 0.1 percent at $102.93 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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