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Asian Markets In Negative Territory After Tillerson Ouster


Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Wednesday following the weak lead from Wall Street overnight after U.S. President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. News that U.S. is seeking to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports also weighed on the markets.

The Australian market is extending losses from the previous session. In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 44.50 points or 0.74 percent to 5,930.20, off a low of 5,922.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 40.40 points or 0.66 percent to 6,036.70.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank - are lower in a range of 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak after crude oil prices extended losses overnight. Oil Search is declining almost 1 percent, Santos is losing more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is down 0.4 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is down 0.5 percent, while Rio Tinto is adding 0.3 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are mixed despite higher gold prices overnight. Evolution Mining is adding 0.3 percent, while Newcrest Mining is losing 1 percent.

News Corp. said that it will sell ballball, a football highlights mobile app, to Dugout, a venture that counts the world's top football clubs as its owners, and also get a minority stake in a video service called Dugout SE Asia.

On the economic front, Australia will see March results for the consumer confidence index from Westpac today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local unit was quoted at US$0.7857, down from US$0.7872 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is losing after four straight days of gains. In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 204.67 points or 0.93 percent to 21,763.43, off a low of 21,758.11 earlier.

The major exporters are mostly weak on a stronger yen. Sony is rising 0.4 percent, while Canon and Panasonic are declining almost 1 percent each, and Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 1 percent.

Among the major automakers, Toyota is down 0.2 percent and Honda is losing 0.3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining more than than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.3 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is losing almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is lower by 0.2 percent after crude oil prices extended losses overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Toyobo Co. is advancing almost 2 percent, Daiichi Sankyo is adding more than 1 percent and Taiheiyo Cement is rising 1 percent.

On the flip side, Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding is losing almost 3 percent, while Toho Co., Seiko Epson and Chiyoda Corp. are down more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said that the value of core machine orders in Japan jumped a seasonally adjusted 8.2 percent on month in January, coming in at 872.3 billion yen. The headline figure topped expectations for an increase of 5.2 percent following the upwardly revised 9.3 percent contraction in December.

The Bank of Japan will release the minutes from its monetary policy meeting on January 22 and 23.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 106 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malaysia are also lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Tuesday amid renewed geopolitical concerns after President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Traders largely shrugged off a report from the Labor Department showing a modest increase in consumer prices in the month of February.

The Dow slid 171.58 points or 0.7 percent to 25,007.03, the Nasdaq tumbled 77.31 points or 1 percent to 7,511.01 and the S&P 500 dropped 17.71 points or 0.6 percent to 2,765.31.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index slumped 1.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled 1.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index dropped 0.6 percent.

Crude oil futures were lower Tuesday amid expectations that U.S. oil inventories rose for a third week in a row. WTI crude for April delivery fell $0.65 or 1.1 percent to close at $60.71 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTT Staff Writer

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