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Asian Markets Mostly Lower

asiancommentary dec17 11jun19 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday following the modest losses overnight on Wall Street as investors awaited further developments regarding the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

Investors digested comments from U.S. President Donald Trump that he was holding up a trade deal with China and will not proceed with new trade talks until Beijing returns to terms that were previously agreed upon.

The Australian market is advancing despite the modest losses on Wall Street. Mining stocks are leading the gainers, thanks to a surge in iron ore prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 27.00 points or 0.41 percent to 6,573.30, just off a high of 6,574.50. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 30.30 points or 0.46 percent to 6,654.70. Australian stocks closed higher on Tuesday as traders returned to their desks following a long weekend.

In the mining space, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 3 percent, BHP Group is advancing almost 2 percent and Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent after iron ore futures gained 6 percent on China's Dalian Commodity Exchange.

Gold miners are also advancing after gold prices edged higher. Evolution Mining is higher by almost 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding 0.2 percent.

Oil stocks are higher even as crude oil prices ended little changed overnight. Santos is rising 0.6 percent, Oil Search is higher by 0.4 percent and Woodside Petroleum is up 0.1 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is edging down 0.1 percent.

Wesfamers said it has agreed to acquire online retailer Catch Group for A$230 million in cash. The Catch of the Day operator will be an independent unit under the oversight of Kmart Group managing director Ian Bailey. Shares of Wesfarmers are adding 0.4 percent.

Afterpay Touch Group said it has completed a A$317 million capital raising it and the money raised would underpin its mid-term plan for growth in the Australia, the US and the UK. Shares of Afterpay are gaining almost 5 percent.

In economic news, Australia's consumer confidence deteriorated in June as deepening concerns about the economy outweighed the initial boost from lower interest rates, survey data from Westpac showed. The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment fell to 100.7 in June from 101.3 in May.

The Japanese market opened lower following the modest losses on Wall Street and on a stronger yen. However, the market recovered and is now modestly higher in choppy trading. Investors digested data showing an unexpected increase in Japan's core machinery orders in April.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 13.22 points or 0.06 percent to 21,217.50, after touching a low of 21,118.75 in early trades. Japanese shares recovered from a weak start to finish higher on Tuesday.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Sony is declining almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by 0.2 percent and Panasonic is edging down 0.1 percent, while Canon is higher by 0.2 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is losing more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is advancing almost 2 percent. In the auto space, Toyota Motor and Honda Motor are advancing almost 1 percent.

The Nikkei business daily reported that two proxy advisory firms, Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services, have urged Nissan shareholders to vote against reappointing CEO and President Hiroto Saikawa at the June 25 general shareholders meeting. Shares of Nissan Motor are declining 0.7 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is lower by more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is losing almost 1 percent.

Among the major banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.5 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining 0.4 percent. In the oil sector, Inpex is down 0.3 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by 0.7 percent.

Among the other major gainers, NTT Data Corp. is rising almost 4 percent and Nisshin Seifun is higher by 3 percent.

On the flip side, Shizuoka Bank, Yahoo Japan and Resona Holdings are lower by more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Cabinet Office said that the total value of core machine orders in Japan advanced a seasonally adjusted 5.2 percent on month in April, standing at 913.7 billion yen. That beat forecasts for a drop of 0.8 percent following the 3.8 percent gain in March.

The Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were down 0.1 percent on month in May. That missed forecasts for a flat reading following the 0.4 percent increase in April.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 108 yen-range on Wednesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks failed to sustain an upward move and closed slightly lower on Tuesday in a choppy session as traders awaited further developments regarding the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. The U.S.-China trade conflict largely took a back seat to President Donald Trump's threatened tariffs on Mexico but may move back into the spotlight ahead of the G20 summit later this month.

After closing higher for six consecutive sessions, the Dow slipped 14.17 points or 0.1 percent to 26,048.51. The Nasdaq edged down 0.60 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 7,822.57, while the S&P 500 dipped 1.01 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,885.72.

The major European markets moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.5 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures ended little changed on Tuesday after swinging between gains and losses, as traders made cautious moves ahead of weekly inventory data. WTI crude for July ended up $0.01 to close at $53.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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