Asian markets are mostly trading weak on Wednesday with investors treading cautiously and indulging in some fairly heavy selling at times amid renewed worries about the financial crisis in the eurozone and its likely impact on the global economy. A weak lead from Wall Street is also contributing to the decline.
Financial, mining and energy stocks are mostly trading notably lower in the Australian market. Stocks from industrial and consumer discretionary sectors too are trading weak.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,256.5, is currently trading at 4,265, down 27.3 points or 0.6 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 28.9 points or 0.7 percent at 4,344.8, a few points off the day's low of 4,336.8.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are down 1.2 to 1.6 percent, while Newcrest Mining is bucking the trend and trading marginally higher.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Caltex Australia and Santos are down 1.2 to 1.5 percent, as well as Oil Search and Origin Energy are trading lower by 0.6 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.5 to 0.8 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are losing 0.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Aquarius Platinum is down 3.7 percent and QBE Insurance Group is down with a loss of 3.5 percent.
Dexus Property Group, Beach Energy, Monadelphous Group, UGL, Seek, Macquarie Group and Paladin Energy are all trading lower by 2 to 2.8 percent.
Lynas Corp. is down nearly 2 percent. Onesteel, Lend Lease Group, Qantas Airways, Panaust, Atlas Iron, Insurance Australia Group and GPT Group are also trading notably lower.
On the economic front, consumer sentiment fell to its lowest level in eight months, according to a survey. The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index fell by 1.6 percent to 94.5 index points in April, from 96.1 points in March.
The Japanese market plunged sharply in early trades with investors pressing sales amid renewed worries about the economy. The overnight sharp fall on Wall Street and the yen's surge against the U.S. dollar also contributed to the weakness in the market.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which plunged below the 9,400 mark for the first time since mid-February, was down 92.9 points or nearly a percent at 9,445.1 when the morning session ended.
Machinery, steel, non-ferrous metals, pharmaceuticals and glass & ceramics shares were mostly down with notable losses. Automobile, financial, electric power and chemicals stocks also drifted lower.
Sony Corp, Tokyu Land Corp, Mitsui Fudosan and Nippon Meat Packers lost 3.2 to 4.5 percent. Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, Panasonic Corp, Kawasaki Kisen, Advantest, Furukawa Co, Nippon Light Metals, Nomura Holdings and Credit Saison were all down by over 2.5 percent at the break.
Kobe Steel, Nippon Steel, JFE Holdings, Honda Motor, Chiba Bank, Bank of Yokohama, Kansai Electric Power and Nippon Paper Group also posted notable losses.
Shares of Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Co, tumbled by over 7 percent on a likely fall in operating profits in fiscal 2012.
Among the stocks that are bucking the trend and trading higher, Oki Electric, KDDI Corp, Chiyoda Corp, Fanuc, Alps Electric and Japan Steel Work were up 0.4 to 1.5 percent.
In economic news, core machinery orders in Japan increased much more than expected in February. The government reported that core machinery orders rose 4.8 percent, as compared to the previous month. Most economists expected orders to decrease 0.5 percent. Machinery orders were up 8.9 percent compared to one year earlier, the government report said.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 80 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 80.77 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Singapore are trading notably lower. Indonesia is down marginally, while Shanghai and Taiwan are trading in positive territory with modest gains. The South Korean market is closed for a holiday due to Assembly Members Election Day. Markets across the region ended on a mixed note on Tuesday.
On Wall Street, stocks ended sharply lower on Tuesday amid renewed concerns about the global economic outlook. The major averages ended near their worst levels of the day. The Dow tumbled 213.7 points or 1.7 percent to 12,715.9, the Nasdaq plunged 55.9 points or 1.8 percent to 2,991.2 and the S&P 500 plummeted 23.6 points or 1.7 percent to 1,358.6.
Major European markets too closed with sharp losses on Tuesday. The French CAC 40 index lost 3.1 percent, while the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index went down by 2.5 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures closed lower on Tuesday amid demand concerns after trade data from China showed imports had dropped in the second largest economy in the world. A stronger dollar too contributed to the decline.
Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for May delivery, dropped $1.44 or 1.4 percent to close at $101.02 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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