Asian stock markets are mostly trading lower on Tuesday with investors choosing to take some profits after recent strong gains. The overnight weak close in the U.S. and European markets and a lack of fresh triggers are also contributing to the subdued trend in the region.
The Australian stock market is trading weak with investors indulging in some profit taking after recent gains.
Energy, property trusts and industrial stocks are mostly trading weak. Consumer staples and financial stocks are trading mixed, while healthcare stocks are moving higher.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which drifted down to 4,383,3 around mid morning, is currently trading at 4,393.4, down 9.1 points or 0.2 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 7.8 points or 0.2 percent at 4,414, off the day's low of 4,406.1.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP: Quote,BBL: Quote) and Rio Tinto (RIO: Quote,RIO.L) are trading lower by 0.8 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank (ANZ: Quote) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are trading flat. National Australia Bank is up marginally and Westpac (WBK: Quote) is gaining about 0.7 percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Caltex Australia are down 1 to 1.4 percent. Oil Search is losing about 2.4 percent, while Origin Energy is bucking the trend and trading marginally higher.
Atlas Iron is down more than 5 percent. Toll Holdings is trading lower by 4.6 percent. Fairfax Media, Boart Longyear and Iluka Resources are down 3 to 3.3 percent.
Paladin Energy, Monadelphous Group, Incitec Pivot, Whitehaven Coal, Leighton Holdings, Computershare and Beach Energy are also trading sharply lower.
Fortescue Metals shares are up more than 17 percent following the company securing a new credit facility of A$4.31 billion. The company said it will use the funds to refinance its looming bank debts.
The troubled iron ore miner had been in negotiations with its lenders about potential waivers of its bank facilities, and on Tuesday said the new credit, to be provided by Credit Suisse and JP Morgan, would extend the maturity profile of its debts.
Sonic Healthcare is gaining about 2.8 percent. CSL, Duet Group, Cochlear, Bluescope Steel and Arrium are up 1.8 to 2 percent.
According to the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's September 4 meeting, the central bank decided to keep the cash rate on hold at 3.5 percent despite concerns about falling iron ore and coal prices as well as the high value of the Australian dollar.
However, it said the current inflation outlook, which is expected to remain within the RBA's target range of two to three per cent through to 2013, meant it had room to cut rates again if necessary.
"The current assessment of the inflation outlook continued to provide scope to adjust policy in response to any significant deterioration in the outlook for growth," the RBA said.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, imports of goods fell A$373 million, or two percent, to A$21.244 billion, seasonally-adjusted, in August. Unadjusted, imports of goods rose A$1.170 billion, or six percent, to A$21.652 billion, the bureau said.
Imports of intermediate and other merchandise goods fell four percent or A$360 million unadjusted, mainly influenced by the fuels and lubricant component, while consumption goods rose by A$107 million or two percent.
In the Japanese market, stocks drifted lower in early trades amid a stronger yen and on worries due to tensions between Japan and China. However, swinging between gains and losses, it edged up into positive territory subsequently and was up marginally when the morning session ended.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which declined to around 9,130, was up 14.1 points or 0.15 percent 9,173.5 at the end of the morning session.
Electric power, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals moved higher. Bank, automobile, steel, non-ferrous metals and chemicals stocks traded mixed.
Kansai Electric Power rose more than 6 percent. Oki Electric Industry Co. shares gained about 5.5 percent and Sumitomo Metal Mining moved up by 5 percent.
Sumco Corp., Sumitomo Chemical, Sony Corp. (SNE: Quote), Furukawa Electric, Advantest Corp. (ATE: Quote), Fuji Heavy Industries, Chubu Electric Power, Tokyo Electron, Konica Minolta Holdings and Mitsui Chemicals gained 3 to 4.3 percent.
Nippon Soda, Toho Zinc, Nippon Yusen KK, Showa Shell Seikyu, Fujifilm Holdings Corp., Daiwa Securities Group, JX Holdings, Nisshin Steel, Pacific Metals and Olympus Corp. gained over 2 percent.
Among bank stocks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU: Quote) gained more than 2 percent, Bank of Yokohama moved up 1.3 percent and Mizuho Financial Group Inc (MFG: Quote) gained 0.8 percent. Shizuoka Bank and SMFG posted modest gains. Aozora Bank and Shinsei Bank declined sharply.
In the automobile space, Mazda Motor gained over 2 percent and Suzuki Motor rose 1.2 percent, while Honda Motor (HM), Isuzu Motors and Nissan Motor lost 1.2 to 2 percent.
Fast Retailing Co. shares declined 4.6 percent. Casio Computer, Shiseido Co., Aeon, Yahoo Japan Corp., Sony Financial Holdings, Seven & I Holdings, Komatsu and Teijin lost 1 to 3 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 78 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 76.58 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai, Indonesia and Taiwan are trading notably lower. Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea are also trading weak, while Malaysia is bucking the trend and trading modestly higher.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower on Monday as traders cashed in on last week's profits. The major averages regained some ground going into the close but still ended the day in the red.
The Dow ended down 40.3 points or 0.3 percent at 13,553.1, the Nasdaq edged down 5.3 points or 0.2 percent to 3,178.7 and the S&P 500 drifted down 4.6 points or 0.3 percent to 1,461.2.
Major European markets too closed weak on Monday. While the German DAX index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 0.4 percent and the French CAC 40 index slid 0.8 percent.
U.S. crude oil dropped dramatically in the last few minutes of regular trade to end sharply lower on Monday, amid rumors of oil release from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve after prices galloped following the Federal Reserve announcement of additional quantitative easing measures last week.
Crude futures for October delivery plunged $2.38 or 2.4 percent to close at $96.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after scaling a high of $99.52 a barrel intraday.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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