Asian stock markets are trading weak on Thursday with investors mostly treading cautiously and indulging in lackluster trades following a lack of triggers. While the U.S. markets were closed overnight for Independence Day holiday, markets in Europe ended on a flat note.
Concerns about the economic situation in the eurozone and caution ahead of rate decisions by the European Central Bank and the Bank of England are also contributing to the subdued trend in the region. While the ECB is expected to cut interest rates, the Bank of England is likely to announce further stimulus measures.
In the Australian market, healthcare, consumer discretionary and industrial stocks are finding some support, while energy, financial and mining stocks are mostly trading flat.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which staged a modest recovery after early weakness, tumbled into the red again and is currently down 12 points or 0.3 percent at 4,160.2. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,200.4, down 13.4 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac are trading modestly higher. National Australia Bank is down marginally and ANZ Bank is trading flat.
Among top miners, Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining are down 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent respectively. Fortescue Metals is up marginally, while BHP Billiton is trading flat.
In the energy sector, Oil Search is trading lower by 1.6 percent, Caltex Australia is down 0.4 percent and Santos and Origin Energy are trading flat, while Woodside Petroleum is up 0.5 percent.
Bluescope Steel is trading lower by over 4.5 percent after the company said the Australian Taxation Office has issued amended assessments in relation to a sale and leaseback transaction in the 2007 income year. Bluescope said it will defend the assessments and pursue all necessary avenues of objection.
Beach Energy is down 4.4 percent. Seven West Media, Panaust, Atlas Iron and Goodman Group are trading lower by 2 to 2.5 percent.
Whitehaven Coal, Mirvac Group, Arrium, CFS Retail Property Trust, Aurora Oil & Gas, Investa Office Fund, Dexus Property Group, Iluka Resources and QBE Insurance Group are also trading notably lower.
Qantas Airways shares are up nearly 3 percent. Ramsay Healthcare, Harvey Norman Holdings and David Jones are up 1.3 to 1.5 percent.
In economic news, Australia posted a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade deficit of A$285 million in May, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That beat forecasts for a shortfall of A$500 million following the revised A$26 million deficit in April - which was originally reported as a A$203 million deficit. Imports were up 3 percent on year, while exports added 2 percent on year.
The Japanese stock market opened lower with investors pressing sales at several counters, tracking a weak lead from European markets where stocks declined overnight amid some weak economic data.
The market rebounded subsequently as a section of investors picked up stocks at lower levels following the yen's decline against the U.S. dollar, but faltered again and was down marginally when the morning session ended.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which declined to around 9,078 in early trades but rallied to 9,130 subsequently, was down 7.6 points at 9,096.6 at the end of the morning session.
Retail, foods, glass & ceramics, automobile and financial stocks are trading mixed. Shares from insurance, real estate, rubber and services sections opened lower and are still mostly trading weak.
Nitto Boseki shares are up nearly 5.5 percent. Aozora Bank, Shinsei Bank, Komatsu, Furukawa Electric, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings and Sumitomo Metal Industries gained 2.5 to 4 percent.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries, JFE Holdings, Taiheiyo Cement, Mitsubishi Materials Corp, Mazda Motor, Isuzu Motors, Pioneer Corp, Nikon Corp, Seven & I Holdings, Sony Corp and Nippon Soda were all up by 1.2 to 2.5 percent.
All Nippon Airways, J Front Retailing, Resona Holdings, Credit Saison, Mitsui OSK Lines, Nippon Suisan and Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings also posted notable gains.
Meanwhile, GS Yuasa, Unitika, Sumco Corp, Yahoo Japan, Softbank, Chubu Electric Power, Mitsubishi Paper Mills, Inpex Corp and Japan Tobacco traded weak, losing 0.8 to 2.2 percent.
According to data released by the ministry of finance, Japanese residents purchased a net 20.6 billion yen in foreign stocks in the week ended June 30. Japan investors also purchased a net 1,340.7 billion yen in foreign bonds and noted last week, the data showed.
Foreign investors sold a net 50.0 billion yen in Japanese stocks last week, the Ministry said, and also purchased a net 377.6 billion yen in Japanese bonds and notes.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded slightly below 80 yen in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.97 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan are trading notably lower. Indonesia and Malaysia are down with modest losses and Singapore, South Korea are down marginally, while New Zealand is trading marginally up.
by RTT Staff Writer
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