The Asian stock markets are trading weak on Wednesday, tracking the negative cues overnight from Wall Street and as investors resorted to profit taking after recent gains.
The markets are hopeful that a series of bilateral meetings between key Eurozone leaders may produce a lasting solution to that region's prolonged sovereign debt crisis.
In the Australian market, energy, mining and industrial stocks are trading weak, while consumer staples, healthcare and property trusts stocks are finding good support. The mood is quite cautious with investors digesting a slew of earnings reports.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is down 10.4 points or 0.2 percent 4,373. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,399, down 11.8 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close.
Woodside Petroleum is trading lower by over 3 percent. The company's first-half profit fell slightly because of the costs of starting up its massive Pluto liquefied natural gas project in WA. Woodside posted a net profit of A$777.67 million in the six months to June 30.
Shares of Asciano Limited are down 2 percent despite the company reporting a 19 percent jump in full-year profit.
CSL is up 2 percent after the company said its annual net profit rose 4.5 percent from last year to A$982.6 million.
Seven West Media is up nearly 2 percent after the company reported a 97.1 percent jump in net profit for the year to June 30.
Seek Limited shares are up more than 5.5 percent. QBE Insurance Group, Challenger, Treasury Wine Estates, Suncorp Group, Insurance Australia Group, Perseus Mining, Mirvac Group, Harvey Norman Holdings and Wesfarmers are up 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Lynas Corp and Arrium are trading lower by over 6 percent. Fairfax Media is down 5.2 percent. Monadelphous Group, Amcor, Iluka Resources and Santos are down 3 to 4.5 percent. Atlas Iron, Whitehaven Coal and Caltex Australia are also trading notably lower.
In economic news, a key leading index in Australia was up 0.5 percent on month in June at 284, Westpac Bank said. That slows from the upwardly revised 0.9 percent increase to 2.82.6 in May - which saw an original improvement of 0.8 percent. The coincident index was up 0.1 percent on month in June to a score of 277.8.
The Japanese stock market declined with investors taking some profits after recent gains. The weak close on Wall Street overnight and weak Japanese trade data too contributed to the weakness.
Financial, foods, insurance, steel and non-ferrous metals stocks are mostly trading weak. Precision instruments, electric power, retail and mining stocks opened on a positive note, but gave up most of their gains subsequently.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which opened around the unchanged line, was down 78.9 points or 0.9 percent at 9,078 at the end of the morning session.
Dainippon Screen Manufacturing lost more than 4 percent. Dentsu Inc, Takara Holdings, Nippon Light Metal, JFE Holdings, Japan Steel Works, Panasonic Corp and Showa Shell KK drifted down by 2.5 to 4 percent.
Advantest Corp (ATE: Quote), Toho Zinc, Matsui Securities, Nippon Yusen KK, NTT Data Corp, Mitsui Chemicals and Ube Industries all declined by more than 2 percent.
Mitsubishi Electric, Hino Motors, Nippon Steel, Nomura Holdings, Sumitomo Metal Industries, Toshiba Corp, Sony Corp (SNE: Quote), Sharp Corp, Shinsei Bank and Suzuki Motor also posted notable losses.
Meanwhile, Showa Denko KK moved up by over 3.5 percent, Unitika added about 2.5 percent and Mazda Motor Corp edged up by around 1 percent.
Softbank Corp, J Front Retailing, Chubu Electric Power, Nippon Express and Kansai Electric Power also surged higher.
According to data released by the Ministry of Finance, Japan saw a merchandise trade deficit of 517.38 billion yen in July - sharply below forecasts for a shortfall of 270.0 billion yen following the downwardly revised 60.3 billion surplus in June.
Exports plummeted 8.1 percent on year - also well shy of expectations for a decline of 2.9 percent following the 2.3 percent contraction in the previous month. Imports were up 2.1 percent on year versus forecasts for an increase of 3.0 percent after shedding 2.2 percent a month earlier.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 79 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.21 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably lower, while Malaysia is bucking the trend and trading higher. Markets across the region had ended mostly higher on Tuesday.
On Wall Street, stocks gave up early gains and ended moderately lower on Tuesday, with some traders taking some profits after recent strength. A lack of major U.S. economic data too contributed to the market's fall from higher levels.
While the Dow ended down 68.1 points or 0.5 percent at 13,203.6, the Nasdaq drifted down by about 9 points or 0.3 percent to 3,067.3 and the S&P 500 dropped 5 points or 0.4 percent to 1,413.2.
Major European markets ended notably higher on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index moved up by 0.9 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended at a three-month high on Tuesday amid speculation that the European Central Bank is stepping up efforts with further policy measures to tackle the eurozone debt crisis. Crude for September delivery gained $0.71 or 0.7 percent to close at $96.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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