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Japanese Market Recovers Modestly After Early Setback

The Japanese stock market started off on a negative note on Tuesday, extending its losses for a fourth successive session, following a weak lead from Wall Street and European markets. However, with a few blue chip stocks finding support at lower levels, the market regained some lost ground subsequently.

Financial, real estate, insurance and communications stocks opened on a weak note and are still mostly trading in negative territory. Transport, oil and chemicals stocks are trading mixed.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which declined to 9,457 in early trades, is currently down 50 points or 0.5 percent at 9,492.2.

JGC Corp, down 3.5 percent, is the most prominent loser in the Nikkei index. Konica Minolta Holdings, T&D Holdings, Pacific Metals, Hitachi, Sumitomo Chemicals, Nomura Holdings and Sony Financial Holdings are all trading lower by 2 to 3 percent.

Among automobile stocks, Hino Motors, Isuzu Motors, Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors are down 1 to 2 percent.

In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Bank of Yokohama, Shinsei Bank, Shizuoka Bank, Aozora Bank and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are down 1.2 to 2.5 percent.

Advantest Corp. shares are up nearly 5.5 percent. All Nippon Airways, Sumco Corp, Nippon Electric Glass, Japan Tobacco, Nippon Sheet Glass, Fujikura, Fujifilm Holdings Corp, Alps Electric and Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding are trading higher by 1 to 3.5 percent.

On the economic front, an index measuring corporate service prices in Japan was down 0.3 percent on year in March, standing at 96.4, the Bank of Japan said on Tuesday. That beat forecasts for a contraction of 0.6 percent, which would have been unchanged from the February reading. On month, the index was higher by 0.7 percent after adding 0.1 percent in the previous month.

For the first quarter of 2012, prices were down 0.4 percent on year 95.9 after shedding 0.2 percent in the previous three months. Prices also fell 0.3 percent on quarter following the revised 0.1 percent increase in Q4.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 81 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 81.15 to the dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are trading weak, while Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore are trading in positive territory with modest gains. Markets across the region ended mostly lower on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks saw considerable weakness on Monday, hurt by disappointing economic data from overseas, including a report from HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics showing a continued contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity in the month of April.

However, the major averages ended the session well off their lowest levels of the day. The Dow closed down 102.1 points or 0.8 percent at 12,927.2, the Nasdaq drifted down 30 points or 1 percent to 2,970.5 and the S&P 500 ended lower by 11.6 points or 0.8 percent at 1,366.9.

Major European markets too ended weak on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 1.9 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index plummeted by 2.8 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil futures settled lower Monday, as investors weighed some significant developments in France and the Netherlands that once again rekindled concerns over the Eurozone sovereign debt and oil demand.

Crude for June delivery dropped $0.77 or 0.7 percent to close at $103.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTT Staff Writer

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