Asian markets are mostly subdued amid lackluster trades on Thursday with investors treading a cautious path amid lingering worries about the financial situation in Europe and on data showing a bigger than expected contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity.
Though most of the markets in the region shrugged off a flat start and moved higher early on in the day, lack of support at higher levels has pushed a few of them into the negative terrain.
In the Australian market, healthcare, mining and energy stocks are finding some support. Financial, industrial and information technology stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to around 4,063 after advancing to 4,089.7 in early trades, is currently up 3 points at 4,070. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 1.5 points at 4,120.3, nearly 20 points off the day's high of 4,139.8.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac are up marginally, while National Australia Bank is trading slightly weak. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is up 0.3 percent, while Bank of Queensland is trading lower by about 0.6 percent.
Miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto are trading higher by 0.5 to 1 percent.
Among energy stocks, Origin Energy is gaining 1.6 percent following the company's joint venture securing A$8.71 billion in funding for its massive liquefied natural gas project in Queensland.
Woodside Petroleum is up 0.8 percent and Caltex Australia is rising 0.5 percent, while Oil Search and Santos are trading modestly lower.
Monadelphous Group shares and Paladin Energy are up more than 4 percent. Onesteel is gaining nearly 4 percent.
Perseus Mining is up almost 3 percent. Lynas Corporation, Whitehaven Coal, CSL, David Jones, Sims Metal Management, Seek and Atlas Iron are also trading notably higher.
Aquarius Platinum, Bluescope Steel and Qantas Airways are trading lower by 2 to 3 percent. James Hardie Industries, CSR and Seven West Media are down 1.2 to 1.5 percent.
The Japanese market faltered after an early upmove with investors pressing some sales amid lingering concerns about the financial situation in the eurozone. The yen's surge against the euro too prompted traders to indulge in some selling.
Automobile, electric power and precision instruments stocks started off on a weak note and were mostly trading in negative territory when the morning session ended. Shares from real estate, securities and financial sections found some support.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 8,597.5 after a flat start, was down 24.5 points or 0.3 percent at 8,532 at the end of the morning session.
Japan Steel Works Ltd shares lost more than 5.5 percent. Oki Electric Industry, Sumitomo Chemicals, Canon Inc, Tosoh, Advantest Corp and TDK Corp lost 3 to 4.3 percent.
Tokyo Electron, Denso Corp, Showa Shell, Ricoh, Pacific Metals, Mazda Motor, Hino Motors, Nissan Motor, Toho Zinc, Mitsumi Electric, Pacific Metals, Kobe Steel and Sumitomo Metal Mining were also down with notable losses at the break.
Meanwhile, Sharp Corp, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, Pioneer Corp, Shinsei Bank, Meidensha Corp, Sumitomo Realty & Development, Kawasaki Kisen and Nippon Light Metals are trading in positive territory, gaining 2 to 4.4 percent.
Fast Retailing, Chugai Pharmaceutical, Yahoo Japan, Panasonic Corp, Olympus Corp., Mitsui OSK Lines, Fuji Electric, Mitsubishi Motors, Chiba Bank and Central Japan Railway also moved higher on strong support.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-79 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.46 to the dollar. Against the euro, the yen strengthened to around 99 early on in the day.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are up marginally, while Hong Kong, Indonesia and New Zealand are trading weak. Markets across the region ended weak on Wednesday.
On Wall Street, stocks recovered most of the lost ground on Wednesday after trading notably lower early on in the session. Despite a bigger than expected increase in U.S. new home sales, the market was quite weak in morning trades as worries about the financial situation in Europe rendered the mood a bit bearish.
The major averages eventually ended the session mixed, with the Dow stuck just below the unchanged line. While the Dow edged down 6.7 points or 0.1 percent to 12,496.1, the Nasdaq rose 11 points or 0.4 percent to 2,850.1 and the S&P 500 crept up 2.2 points or 0.2 percent to 1,318.9.
Major European market ended notably lower on Wednesday. While the German DAX index plummeted 2.3 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index went down by 2.6 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures settled sharply lower at a seven-month low on Wednesday, surrendering almost $2 a barrel. Oil prices were hit hard by a strengthening dollar against most major currencies amid increased concerns over the eurozone crisis and speculations that Greece is preparing to quit the single currency bloc. Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for July delivery, dropped $1.95 or 2.1 percent to close at $89.90 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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