Plus   Neg

Asian Markets In Negative Territory


Asian stock markets, with the exception of Indonesia, are in negative territory on Wednesday tracking the weak cues overnight from Wall Street amid concerns about the outlook for the Republican tax reform bill. Mining stocks fell following the plunge in copper prices, while crude oil prices also declined in Asian trades.

The Australian market is extending losses from the previous session following the weak cues overnight from Wall Street and the pullback in commodity prices. Data showing Australia's weaker than expected GDP growth also weighed on investor sentiment.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 14.60 points or 0.24 percent to 5,957.20, off a low of 5,939.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 17.40 points or 0.29 percent to 6,039.90.

The major miners are weak. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are declining more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is down 0.7 percent.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are losing more than 1 percent each after gold prices dropped to their lowest in four months overnight.

Oil stocks are also lower despite crude oil prices edging higher. Santos is losing 2 percent, Woodside Petroleum is down 0.1 percent and Oil Search is lower by 0.3 percent.

Bucking the trend, the big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac - are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.9 percent.

Incitec Pivot warned that its 2020 and 2021 full-year profits will be hit by the end of a contract to supply ammonium nitrate prill to mining giant BHP Billiton. The fertiliser and explosives maker's shares are down more than 2 percent.

TPG Telecom's chairman said while the rollout of the national broadband network has been detrimental to the company, the telecom company's mobile and fixed-line projects will benefit shareholders over the long term. TPG Telecom's shares are rising almost 2 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that Australia's gross domestic product advanced a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2017. That missed expectations for an increase of 0.7 percent following the 0.8 percent gain in the three months prior.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoted at US$0.7603, down from $0.7648 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is notably lower, with the weak cues from Wall Street and a stronger yen denting investor sentiment.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 142.27 points or 0.63 percent to 22,480.11, off a low of 22,450.04 earlier.

The major exporters are mostly down on a stronger yen. Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are all lower by almost 1 percent each, while Canon is up 0.3 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down almost 1 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is down 0.7 percent and Honda is declining 0.2 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is declining almost 2 percent, while Japan Petroleum is adding almost 2 percent after crude oil prices edged higher overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Sumco Corp and Tokuyama Corp are rising more than 2 percent each, while DeNA Co. is adding 2 percent. On the flip side, Nisshin Steel is losing almost 4 percent, Toho Zinc is declining more than 3 percent and Showa Denko is down almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 112 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore, South Korea, Shanghai, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan are also lower. Bucking the trend, Indonesia is modestly higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Tuesday, reflecting concerns about the outlook for the Republican tax reform bill amid reports about disagreements over a corporate alternative minimum tax. On the U.S. economic front, the Commerce Department released a report showing the trade deficit widened more than expected in the month of October.

The Dow fell by 109.41 points or 0.5 percent to 24,180.64, the Nasdaq edged down 13.15 points or 0.2 percent to 6,762.21 and the S&P 500 dipped 9.87 points or 0.3 percent to 2,629.57.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures edged higher Tuesday ahead of U.S. inventories data. January WTI oil added $0.15 or 0.3 percent to settle at $57.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In Asian trades, crude oil futures dipped $0.24 or 0.42 percent to $57.38 a barrel.

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