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Asian Markets Mostly Lower In Cautious Trade


Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday with investors treading cautiously following the mixed cues from Wall Street amid lingering worries about the impact of rising interest rates and U.S.-China tensions. Investors also digested U.S. President Donald Trump's comments that he did not like the Federal Reserve's decision to continue raising interest rates.

The Australian market is edging lower after opening higher following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Losses in the heavyweight banking sector more than offset gains by healthcare, mining and oil stocks amid higher commodity prices.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 4.00 points or 0.07 percent to 6,037.10, after touching a high of 6,057.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 4.30 points or 0.07 percent to 6,151.20. Australian shares fell on Tuesday, extending losses from the previous session.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, Westpac and ANZ Banking are lower in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.9 percent.

Shares of Commonwealth Bank are down 0.7 percent after the lender and its wealth management unit Colonial First State were hit with a class-action lawsuit over allegedly uncompetitive superannuation returns.

Gold miner Evolution Mining is down 0.5 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by 0.4 percent despite a slight rebound in gold prices overnight.

In the healthcare space, CSL is advancing almost 2 percent and Cochlear is rising more than 2 percent.

Among the big miners, BHP is adding 0.4 percent, Fortescue Metals is up almost 1 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing more than 1 percent, helped by stronger iron ore and copper prices.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Santos is rising more than 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.2 percent, while Oil Search is down 0.1 percent.

Navitas has received a A$1.97 billion takeover bid from a consortium comprising private equity firm BGH Capital, fund manager AustraliaSuper and top shareholder Rodney Jones. The education firm's shares are gaining more than 21 percent.

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

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, recovering from multi-year lows. The local currency was quoted at $0.7108, up from $0.7087 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is paring gains after opening higher on upbeat core machine orders data, as a stronger yen weighed on exporters' shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 22.43 points or 0.10 percent to 23,491.82, after rising to a high of 23,589.38 in early trades. Japanese shares fell notably on Tuesday to hit a three-week low.

The major exporters are mixed on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is advancing more than 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.7 percent, while Panasonic is losing almost 1 percent and Sony is down 0.2 percent.

Among auto makers, Toyota is declining 0.5 percent and Honda is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.7 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is rising almost 1 percent.

In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is gaining more than 3 percent and Inpex is advancing more than 2 percent after crude oil prices rebounded overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Tokai Carbon is gaining almost 4 percent, while Toho Co. and Nippon Suisan Kaisha are rising more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, J Front is losing 4 percent, Asahi Kasei is declining more than 3 percent and SoftBank is lower by almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said that the total value of core machine orders in Japan spiked a seasonally adjusted 6.8 percent on month in August, worth 981.5 billion yen. That beat expectations for a decline of 3.9 percent following the 11.0 percent spike in July.

Japan will also see preliminary September figures for machine tool orders today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 113 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand and Malaysia are also lower, while Hong Kong and Indonesia are modestly higher. The markets in Taiwan are closed for the National Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday for the second straight day as traders kept an eye on treasuries amid renewed concerns about the outlook for interest rates. With the bond markets re-opening following the Columbus Day holiday on Monday, treasury yields turned lower over the course of the session after initial moving higher.

While the tech-heavy Nasdaq inched up 2.07 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 7,738.02, the Dow dipped 56.21 points or 0.2 percent to 26,430.57 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.09 points or 0.1 percent to 2,880.34.

The major European markets closed higher on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose on Tuesday as more evidence emerged that crude exports from Iran, OPEC's third-largest producer, are declining ahead of the U.S. sanctions against the country that kicks in from November 4. WTI crude for November delivery climbed $0.67 or 0.9 percent to $74.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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