Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Wednesday with investors mostly treading a cautious path despite a positive lead from Wall Street where stocks moved higher overnight on bargain hunting.
Though most of the markets in the region surged higher after a steady start, stocks gave up most of their gains with investors trimming down positions amid lingering worries about the financial situation in Europe. Some weak economic data from the region too contributed to the fall from higher levels.
After edging higher in early trades, the Australian market faltered following the release of a none too encouraging report on consumer optimism, and is currently trading weak.
Energy, financial and industrial stocks are trading weak, while consumer discretionary, mining and property trusts stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which advanced to 4,087.8 in early trades, is currently trading at 4,054, down 18.9 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 22.6 points or 0.5 percent at 4,095.7.
Among key bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are down 0.2 to 0.6 percent, while Westpac is in positive territory with a gain of 0.3 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is trading 1.2 percent down and Bank of Queensland is down marginally.
Among top miners, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are trading higher, while BHP Billiton and Newcrest Mining are down with modest losses.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum and Santos are down 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Origin Energy and Oil Search are up marginally, while Caltex Australia is gaining about 1.3 percent.
Lynas Corporation is down nearly 5 percent. Iluka Resources, Seek, Aquarius Platinum and Incitec Pivot are trading lower by 2.5 to 4 percent.
Campbell Brothers, Oz Minerals, Toll Holdings, AMP, Spark Infrastructure Group, Ansell, Atlas Iron, WorleyParsons, QBE Insurance Group and QR National are all trading lower by 1.5 to 2.3 percent.
Whitehaven Coal Limited shares are trading higher by over 5 percent. The company announced that it has received a privatisation offer from billionaire Nathan Tinkler, although the offer is in its very early stages. Whitehaven Coal said the proposal from Tinkler Group was indicative, non-binding and "is not considered capable of being progressed at this time".
Macquarie Group has bought a five percent stake in casinos operator Echo Entertainment Group. Echo announced that Macquarie had become a substantial shareholder in Echo on June 7, having acquired about 35.1 million shares, or about 5.1 percent of Echo.
While Macquarie Group shares are trading lower by 1.5 percent, shares of Echo Entertainment Group are under a trading halt, pending an announcement from the company about a capital raising.
In economic news, consumer optimism in Australia grew just marginally in June, according to a private study. The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index surged 0.3 percent to 95.6 index points in June.
The Japanese market surged higher with investors indulging in some hectic buying in several front line stocks from across various sectors, buoyed by the overnight strong close on Wall Street and on better-than-expected surge in core machinery orders.
However, with a section of investors turning cautious and taking some profits amid lingering worries about the economic situation in Europe, the market pared most of its gains subsequently.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 8,616 after opening with a strong positive gap, is currently trading at 8,570, up 33.30 points or 0.4 percent from its previous close.
Steel, non-ferrous metals, chemicals and pulp & paper stocks opened on a bright note and are still mostly trading higher. Electric power, construction, foods and insurance stocks are trading mixed.
Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding, Furukawa, Sumitomo Metal Industries, Nippon Steel, Konami Corp, Kobe Steel, Nikon Corp, Tokai Carbon and Taiyo Yuden are trading stronger by 2 to 4 percent.
Hitachi, Toho Zinc, Fast Retailing, Nissan Chemical Industries, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, NTT Data Corp, Oji Paper, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Mitsubishi Paper Mills, Nippon Soda, West Japan Railway, Nippon Electric Glass and Toyo Seikan Kaisha are also trading notably higher.
Meanwhile, Sumco Corp, Inpex Corp, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Teijin, Sharp Corp, GS Yuasa, Komatsu, Nippon Sheet Glass, Canon Inc and Nissan Motor are trading in negative territory, losing 1 to 4 percent from their last closing levels.
On the economic front, core machine orders in Japan spiked a seasonally adjusted 5.7 percent on month in April, the Cabinet Office said. That blew away forecasts for an increase of 1.6 percent following the 2.8 percent contraction in March.
On a yearly basis, core machine orders jumped 6.6 percent - also beating expectations for an increase of 4.9 percent following the 1.1 percent decline in the previous month.
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 79.65 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Malaysia and Taiwan are trading modestly higher, while Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea are trading weak. Markets across the region ended lower on Tuesday amid worries about eurozone economy.
On Wall Street, stocks edged higher on Tuesday, thanks to bargain hunting after the previous session's setback, and on a pullback by Spanish bond yields.
The major averages saw continued strength going into the close, ending the day near their highs for the session. The Dow jumped 162.6 points or 1.3 percent to 12,573.8, the Nasdaq advanced 33.3 points or 1.2 percent to 2,843.1 and the S&P 500 ended up 15.3 points or 1.2 percent at 1,324.2.
Major European markets too ended higher on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index advanced 0.8 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index gained 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures snapped a three-day losing streak to end higher on Tuesday, ahead of the crucial OPEC meet to decide on production levels later this week. Investors were also swayed by hopes of further quantitative easing as eurozone woes continued unabated with yields on Spanish and Italian bond surging to record levels.
Crude for July delivery gained $0.62 or 0.8 percent to close at $83.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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