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Asian Markets Mostly Lower On Brexit Worries


Asian stock markets, led by Japan, are mostly lower on Wednesday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street and amid fresh uncertainties over Brexit after UK lawmakers again resoundingly rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's deal for Britain to withdraw from the European Union. May's Brexit deal was earlier defeated by UK lawmakers in January.

The Australian market is declining amid fresh uncertainties about Brexit.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 23.40 points or 0.38 percent to 6,151.40, after touching a low of 6,140.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 21.80 points or 0.35 percent to 6,238.80. Australian stocks closed marginally lower on Tuesday.

Oil stocks are weak despite a slight increase in crude oil prices. Woodside Petroleum is declining more than 1 percent, Santos is down 0.6 percent and Oil Search is lower by 0.4 percent.

The major miners are also mostly lower. BHP Group is down 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is lower by 0.5 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding 0.6 percent.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are down in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.8 percent, while ANZ Banking is adding 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are advancing after gold prices rebounded overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent.

Amcor said it expects its acquisition of U.S.-based Bemis to be completed in May. However, the packaging company's shares are lower by 0.7 percent.

Sigma Healthcare has rejected a A$709 million takeover offer from Australian Pharmaceuticals Industries as it is not in the best interests of its shareholders. The pharmacy operator's shares are losing almost 5 percent.

Shares of Yowie Group are gaining more than 24 percent after the confectionery maker received a A$20 million takeover bid from investment firm Keybridge Capital.

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

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly lower against the U.S dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7063, down from $0.7069 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is notably lower as a stronger yen pulled down exporters' stocks and investors digested weaker-than-expected Japanese core machine orders data for the month of January. Worries about Brexit also dampened sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 257.01 points or 1.20 percent to 21,246.68, after touching a low of 21,232.11 earlier. Japanese shares surged on Tuesday.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Panasonic is declining more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.7 percent and Canon is down 0.4 percent, while Sony is adding 0.2 percent.

In the tech sector, Tokyo Electron is declining almost 1 percent and Advantest is losing 2 percent. Among the major automakers, Honda is lower by 0.7 percent and Toyota is down almost 1 percent.

Infiniti Motor Co., the luxury division of automaker Nissan said it is withdrawing from Western Europe and will cease making two models at the manufacturing plant in England. Shares of Nissan Motor are down 0.3 percent.

In the banking space, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining 0.7 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is losing more than 1 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is adding 0.5 percent, while Japan Petroleum is down 0.8 percent after crude oil prices edged higher overnight.

Tokyo Gas and a power producer of the Philippine conglomerate Lopez Group have received the Philippine government's approval for the construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Batangas province. However, shares of Tokyo Gas are down 0.4 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Pacific Metals is rising more than 4 percent, Hitachi Zosen is higher by more than 3 percent and Mitsui Fudosan is advancing almost 2 percent.

On the flip side, Fujikura is losing almost 7 percent, Furukawa Electric is lower by more than 6 percent and Sumitomo Dainippon is declining almost 4 percent.

On the economic front, the Cabinet Office said that the total value of core machine orders in Japan dropped a seasonally adjusted 5.4 percent in January, coming in at 822.3 billion yen. That missed expectations for a decline of 1.5 percent following the downwardly revised 0.3 percent fall in December.

The Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.2 percent on month in February. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.1 percent following the 0.6 percent decline in January.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 111 yen-range on Wednesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday as shares of Boeing continued to weigh on the Dow came after the European Union, China, the U.K. and other countries grounded the company's 737 MAX jets following the second crash in less than 6 months. Meanwhile, the broader markets benefited from the release of tame inflation data, which suggests the Federal Reserve will continue to refrain from raising interest rates in the near future.

The Dow fell 96.22 points or 0.4 percent to 25,554.66, while the Nasdaq climbed 32.97 points or 0.4 percent to 7,591.03 and the S&P 500 rose 8.22 points or 0.3 percent to 2,791.52.

The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures ended slightly higher on Tuesday, with traders looking ahead to the weekly inventory data and reacting to recent report from the International Energy Agency. WTI crude oil futures for April ended up $0.08 or 0.1 percent at $56.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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