Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Tuesday with investors mostly treading cautiously amid worries about the global economic outlook. Though most of the markets opened on a firm note on short-covering and bargain hunting after recent losses, some of them retreated subsequently due to stiff resistance at higher levels.
After a good spell in positive territory thanks to some hectic bargain hunting in some front line stocks after recent losses, the Australian market retreated due to a
drop in business confidence and is currently trading weak.
Energy and mining stocks, which suffered sharp losses in the previous session, moved higher in morning trades, but gave up most of their gains subsequently. Property trusts, healthcare and telecommunications are mostly trading higher. Bank stocks are mostly trading weak.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to 4,135.9 earlier in the day, is currently trading at 4,105.7, down 12.6 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 12.3 points or 0.3 percent at 4,147.5, nearly 30 points off the day's high of 4,176.8.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank are down 0.2 to 0.5 percent, while Westpac is trading in positive territory with a modest gain. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are down 0.4 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are trading modestly lower, giving up early gains. Newcrest Mining is down 2.4 percent, while Fortescue Metals is bucking the trend and trading higher by 2.5 percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Origin Energy and Oil Search are down marginally, while Caltex Australia is trading firm with a gain of about 0.8 percent.
Insurance Australia Group has announced that it is stepping up its growth in Asia, where it aims to generate 10 percent of its business within four years.
The insurance group, which owns Australian brands such as NRMA and CGU, had invested about A$720 million in five Asian countries, chief executive Mike Wilkins told analysts on Tuesday. The stock is currently trading 0.6 percent up from its previous closing price.
Lynas Corporation and Lend Lease Group are trading higher by 4.4 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively. Beach Energy is gaining about 3.5 percent.
Westfield Retail Trust, Telstra Corporation, Amcor, Iluka Resources, Aurora Oil & Gas and AGL Energy are also trading notably higher.
Myer Holdings is down by over 4 percent. Seven West Media, Sims Metal Management, Oz Minerals and David Jones are trading lower by 2 to 3 percent.
Whitehaven Coal, Bluescope Steel, Leighton Holdings, Metcash and Brambles are down 1.3 to 1.8 percent.
On the economic front, the National Australia Bank Monthly Business Survey showed the business confidence index had dropped one point to negative three points. The NAB survey found that while business conditions improved modestly over June across a variety of industries, the divergence between states has become more pronounced.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar was quoting at US$1.0201 in early trades, up from Monday's close of US$1.0191.
The Japanese stock market opened higher on Tuesday with investors indulging in some bargain hunting after three successive days of losses. However, the mood remains quite cautious amid lingering concerns about the economic situation in Europe.
Oil, financial, pulp & paper, warehousing and non-ferrous metals stocks moved higher in early trades and are still mostly holding on in positive territory. Machinery, chemicals and pharmaceuticals stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 8,967, was up 23.7 points or 0.3 percent at 8,920.6 at the end of the morning session.
Tosoh Corp shares moved up by over 5 percent in early trades. JX Holdings and Showa Dell KK gained more than 3.5 percent.
Toho Co, Mitsumi Electric, Comsys Holdings, Nippon Express, Tokyo Electron, Kobe Steel, Toyo Seikan, NTT Data Corp and Nitto Boseki all surged higher by 2 to 3 percent.
All Nippon Airways shares moved up by over 2 percent after the company said that Swiss International Airlines and Austrian Airlines will join in its joint venture with Lufthansa German Airlines. All Nippon Airways has applied to the Japanese transport authorities for antitrust immunity to add the two airlines, both Lufthansa Group carriers, to the venture.
Inpex Corp, Japan Steel Works, Dai Nippon Printing, Trend Micro, Fujitsu, Mizuho Financial, Shizuoka Bank, Central Japan Railway, J Front Retailing and Seven & I Holding also posted strong gains.
Nikon Corp plunged more than 6 percent following an announcement from Intel Corp that it would by a 15 percent stake in ASML, a competitor that etches circuits onto silicon wafers and is experimenting with extreme ultraviolet tech, an area where Nikon has made little progress.
Sharp Corp shares tumbled by over 3 percent following an announcement from the company that it has reached an out of court settlement with Dell Inc and two other companies that filed a lawsuit over its TFT digital business.
Hitachi Construction Machinery, Hitachi Zosen, Komatsu, Kawasaki Kisen, Nippon Light Metals and Eisai also drifted lower.
According to data released by Bank of Japan, M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.2 percent on year in June, standing at 818.6 trillion yen. That beat forecasts for an increase of 2.1 percent following the upwardly revised increase of 2.2 percent in May.
M3 money stock was up 2.0 percent on year to 1,124.7 trillion yen - beating forecasts for an increase of 1.9 percent, which would have been unchanged from the previous month.
For the second quarter of 2012, M2 was up 2.3 percent on year and M3 added an annual 2.1 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 79 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.51 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are trading weak, while Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore are trading modestly higher. Markets across the region ended weak on Monday.
On Wall Street, stocks posted moderate losses on Monday as lingering economic concerns continued to weigh on the markets. The major averages moved to the upside going into close, finishing the day well off their lows for the session.
The Dow ended down 36.2 points or 0.3 percent at 12,736.3, the Nasdaq edged down 5.6 points or 0.2 percent to 2,931.8 and the S&P 500 dipped 2.2 points or 0.2 percent to 1,352.5.
Major European markets too closed weak on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index slid by 0.6 percent, the German DAX index and the French CAC 40 index both ended lower by 0.4 percent.
U.S. crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Monday, in anticipation of a full-blown strike that threatens to shutdown Norway's oil production. Oil also benefited from falling equities market and a weak dollar.
Crude for August delivery gained $1.54 or 1.8 percent to close at $85.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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