Asian stock markets are trading weak on Thursday with investors mostly pressing sales, following a weak lead from Wall Street where stocks declined overnight amid lingering worries about the financial situation in Europe and on a weak U.S. retail sales report.
The mood is quite cautious in the region following a downgrade on Spain's sovereign rating and on some weak economic reports from the U.S. and Europe.
In the Australian market, energy, mining, financial and industrial stocks are seeing fairly heavy selling. Consumer discretionary and healthcare stocks are also mostly down in negative territory despite trading off their earlier low levels.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,026.5, is currently trading at 4,041.4, down 22.4 points or 0.6 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 23.3 points or 0.6 percent at 4,088.2, off the day's low of 4,074.4.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are trading lower by 0.8 to 1.6 percent.
Among energy stocks, Caltex Australia is down 2.7 percent, Santos is trading 1.7 percent down and Oil Search is down with a loss of 1.8 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is trading lower by about 1 percent.
In the banking space, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.6 to 1.2 percent. Bank of Queensland is down 0.5 percent and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is trading marginally down.
Onesteel is trading nearly 5 percent down and Beach Energy is down with a loss of 3.3 percent. James Hardie Industries, Aquarius Platinum, Ramsay Healthcare, Tabcorp Holdings, Boart Longyear, Sims Metal Management and Seven West Media are trading lower by 2 to 2.6 percent.
CSR, Iluka Resources, Regis Resources, Tatts Group, Incitec Pivot, Macquarie Group and Cochlear are also trading notably lower.
Stocks opened on a weak note in the Japanese market with investors pressing sales following a weak lead from Wall Street where weak retail data hurt sentiment to a notable extent. The mood was quite cautious ahead of the release of some key economic data and amid growing uncertainties about the financial situation in Europe.
Financial, rubber, insurance, mining and transport stocks opened on a weak note and were mostly trading in negative territory when the morning session ended. Pharmaceuticals, foods, automobile and real estate stocks were trading mixed.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 59.3 points or 0.7 percent at 8,528.5 at the end of the morning session.
Konami Corp, Toshiba Corp, Alps Electric, Unitika, Nippon Electric Glass, Inpex Corp and Mitsumi Electric lost 2 to 3 percent.
Hino Motors, Nippon Light Metal, Nippon Paper Group, Furukawa, Bridgestone Corp, J Front Retailing, Mitsubishi Materials, Showa Denko KK and IHI Corp also posted notable losses.
Among automobile stocks, Toyota Motor, Honda Motor, Mitsubishi Motor and Nissan Motor drifted down by 1 to 2 percent. Isuzu Motors and Suzuki Motor also traded weak, while Mazda Motor hovered around its previous closing price.
Among the gainers, Ricoh Co Ltd shares surged 3.5 percent. Nisshin Steel, Nomura Holdings, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Panasonic Corp, MS & AD Insurance Group, Shinsei Bank, Sharp Corp and Daiwa Securities Group moved up by 1 to 2 percent.
According to data released by the Ministry of Finance, Japanese residents bought a net 45.4 billion in foreign stocks in the week ended June 9, 2012. Japan investors also sold a net 157.7 billion yen in foreign bonds and notes last week, the ministry said.
Foreign investors sold a net 158.0 billion in Japanese stocks last week, the data showed, and also purchased a net 494.2 billion yen in Japan bonds and notes.
Data on industrial production for April is due for release during the day. Little change is expected from last month's preliminary reading that suggested a 0.2 percent monthly gain and a 13.4 percent annual increase, while capacity utilization was called higher by 1.3 percent on month.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded traded in the lower 79 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.43 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore are trading notably lower. Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan are down marginally, while New Zealand is trading notably higher. Markets across the region ended mostly higher on Wednesday.
On Wall Street, stocks ended lower on Wednesday, after showing a lack of direction for much of the session, amid lingering concerns about the situation in Europe and the outlook for the U.S. economy.
The Dow ended down 77.4 points or 0.6 percent at 12,496.4, the Nasdaq slid 24.5 points or 0.9 percent to 2,818.6 and the S&P 500 dropped 9.3 points or 0.7 percent to 1,314.9.
Major European markets ended on a mixed note on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index closed 0.2 percent up, the German DAX index edged down by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 index declined by 0.6 percent.
U.S. crude oil futures settled lower on Wednesday on demand growth concerns ahead of the crucial OPEC meet on production levels, with investors weighing some soft economic data from the U.S. and an Energy Information Administration report that showed U.S. oil stockpiles to have declined lesser than expected last week.
Crude for July delivery dropped $0.70 or 0.8 percent to close at $82.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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