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Asian Markets Mostly Lower

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Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Wednesday, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders remain concerned amid the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus in regions and the rising tensions between China and the West. The markets also reflect uncertainty ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement late today. Asian Markets closed mixed on Tuesday.

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday, retreating from the record close in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,400 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street. Traders also remain concerned about the worsening domestic coronavirus situation in New South Wales.

Economists predict hundreds of thousands of job losses over the next few months due to the Sydney lock down. Australia is set to extend the COVID-19 lockdown by another four weeks in Sydney as new cases remain high despite a month under strict stay-home orders, while Victoria and South Australia eased curbs from Wednesday.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 54.80 points or 0.74 percent to 7,376.60, after hitting a low of 7,372.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 55.60 points or 0.72 percent to 7,648.40. Australian stocks ended modestly higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group, Rio Tinto, OZ Minerals and Fortescue Metals are all losing almost 1 percent each, while Mineral Resources is declining almost 2 percent.

BHP has trumped a bid by mining magnate Andrew Forrest to buy Canada's Noront Resources, while Rio Tinto announced plans to build a lithium mine in Serbia. Both miners are accelerating their retreat from fossil fuels.

Oil stocks are mostly lower after crude oil prices tumbled overnight. Oil Search is edging up 0.4 percent, while Beach energy and Woodside Petroleum are losing more than 1 percent each. Origin Energy is flat. Santos is down almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is gaining more than 3 percent and Xero is adding almost 2 percent, while Appen and Afterpay are losing almost 3 percent each.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is losing almost 1 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is gaining almost 2 percent and Gold Road Resources is adding almost 1 percent, while Resolute Mining is losing more than 1 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging down 0.5 percent. Newcrest Mining is edging up 0.1 percent.

In other news, shares in Spark Infrastructure are gaining almost 6 percent after the energy firm received a sweetened $2.95 per share takeover offer from a North American consortium, including Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board and KKR.

In economic news, consumer prices in Australia were up 0.8 percent on quarter in the second quarter of 2021, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday. That was above expectations for 0.7 percent rise and up from 0.6 in the previous quarter. On a yearly basis, inflation gained 3.8 percent, in line with forecasts, but still up from 1.1 percent in the previous three months.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.737 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is notably lower on Wednesday, snapping a winning streak of three sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei index below the 27,700 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street. Traders are also concerned about reports that the IMF cut this year's economic growth forecast for Japan and the country's continuing struggle to contain the spread of the new wave of coronavirus cases.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,648.77, down 321.45 points or 1.15 percent, after hitting a low of 27,574.98 earlier. Japanese stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 3 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging up 0.5 percent, while Toyota is edging down 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is losing almost 3 percent, Tokyo Electron is down more than 2 percent and Advantest is declining more than 3 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Mizuho Financial is flat.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is edging down 0.3 percent, Canon is losing more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is losing almost 1 percent, while Sony is gaining almost 1 percent.

Among the other major losers, Sumco is losing more than 7 percent, while Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, M3 and Z Holdings are down more than 3 percent each. Recruit Holdings, Nippon Express, Kikkoman, Fujitsu, Keisei Electric Railway and Shimizu are declining more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Mitsubishi Motors is gaining more than 8 percent, Nisshin Seifun Group in adding almost 5 percent, Nissan Motor is up almost 4 percent and Nippon Steel is rising almost 3 percent, while Tokuyama, Hitachi Zosen, JFE Holdings, Tosoh, Mazda Motor and Kobe Steel are all rising almost 2 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 109 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan is losing 1.7 percent, while Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and China are lower by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent each. Hong Kong is gaining 0.7 percent, while New Zealand and Indonesia are up 0.1 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks moved to the downside during trading on Tuesday, giving back ground after closing higher for five consecutive sessions. With the drop on the day, the major averages pulled back off the record closing highs set on Monday.

The major averages all closed in negative territory, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq underperformed its counter parts by a wide margin. While the Nasdaq tumbled 180.14 points or 1.2 percent to 14,660.58, the S&P 500 fell 20.84 points or 0.5 percent to 4,401.46 and the Dow dipped 85.79 points or 0.2 percent to 35,058.52.

The major European markets all also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index slid by 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil priced drifted lower on Tuesday after moving around the flat line for much of the day's session, with traders weighing demand prospects and looking ahead to weekly inventory data. West Texas Intermediate Crude futures for September dipped $0.26 or 0.4 percent at $71.65 a barrel.

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