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Asian Markets Mostly Lower On Rising U.S. Bond Yields, Geopolitical Tensions


Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday following the negative cues from Wall Street amid worries about rising U.S. Treasury yields. News that North Korea has abruptly cancelled high-level talks with South Korea slated for Wednesday and also threatened to pull out of a planned summit with the U.S. further dampened investor sentiment.

The Australian market is rising, shrugging off the negative cues from Wall Street. Mining and energy stocks are among the leading gainers following a rise in oil prices and as commodity prices held firm.

In late-morning trades, the S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 15.30 points or 0.25 percent to 6,113.10. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 16.30 points or 0.26 percent to 6,215.00.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is adding more than 1 percent, and Rio Tinto is rising 0.6 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining 0.7 percent.

Oil stocks are also gaining after crude oil prices advanced overnight. Santos and Woodside Petroleum are rising more than 1 percent each, while Oil Search is adding 0.7 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent, while National Australia Bank is down 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are weak after gold prices tumbled overnight. Evolution Mining and Newcrest Mining are losing more than 1 percent each.

Myer Holdings reported a 2.7 percent decline in third-quarter sales and said that unseasonably warm weather is expected to hurt its fourth-quarter profit. However, the embattled department store chain's shares are gaining 8 percent.

Shares of A2 Milk Co. are losing almost 15 percent after the company said its full-year sales revenue is expected to rise as much as 67 percent, but still be lower than the forecast by analysts.

In economic news, Australia will provide first-quarter data for wage prices today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7474, down from US$0.7518 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is declining, tracking the negative lead from Wall Street and following news that North Korea has abruptly cancelled talks with South Korea slated for Wednesday. Investors also digested data that showed the Japanese economy contracted in the first quarter, snapping a string of eight straight quarters of expansion.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 73.69 points or 0.32 percent to 22,744.33, off a low of 22,727.07 earlier.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is declining more than 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by more than 1 percent and Canon is down 0.2 percent, while Sony is adding 0.2 percent.

Automaker Toyota is advancing almost 1 percent and Honda is edging up less than 0.1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 3 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing 0.5 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is declining more than 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is higher by more than 2 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by almost 1 percent, while Alps Electric and Kyocera is declining more than 1 percent each.

Among the market's best performers, Toyo Seikan Group Holdings is gaining 10 precent, Japan Steel Works is rising more than 4 percent and NTN Corp is higher by more than 4 percent.

On the flip side, Ebara Corp. and Japan Post Holdings are declining more than 4 percent each, while Kuraray Co. is losing almost 4 percent.

In economic news, Japan's gross domestic product or GDP was down 0.2 percent on quarter in the first three months of 2018, the Cabinet Office said in Wednesday's preliminary reading.

That was shy of expectations for a flat reading, following the downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in the three months prior. The poor first quarter snapped a string of eight straight quarters of expansion for the Japanese economy, which had marked the longest such streak in more than three years.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand and Indonesia are declining more than 1 percent each, while Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong are also lower. Taiwan and Malaysia are modestly higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed notably lower on Tuesday as negative sentiment was generated in reaction to earnings news from home improvement retailer Home Depot. Traders were also reacting to a jump in U.S. treasury yields, with the yield on the benchmark ten-year note surging up to its highest levels since 2011.

The Dow slumped 193.00 points or 0.8 percent to 24,706.41, the Nasdaq fell 59.69 points or 0.8 percent to 7,351.63 and the S&P 500 slid 18.68 points or 0.7 percent to 2,711.45.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance 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 both rose by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures rose Tuesday, even as U.S. stocks and other commodities melted down. WTI oil for June ended up $0.35 or 0.5 percent at $71.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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