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Asian Markets Mostly Lower

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Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders are weighing the likely impact of the spread of the delta variant of coronavirus in the region and some other countries, particularly in the U.S., on the pace of economic recovery from the pandemic. Asian Markets closed mixed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the relatively tame U.S. inflation data generated optimism that the Federal Reserve may delay plans to begin scaling back stimulus. Comments later from economists suggested that the Fed is still likely to begin tapering its asset purchases as soon as December.

The Fed is scheduled to hold a monetary policy meeting next week, with many expecting the central bank to provide an update on the outlook for its asset purchase program.

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just above the 7,400 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as materials, financial and energy stocks dragging the market, even as the domestic coronavirus situation remains a concern, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria.

However, the infection rates are on a steady decline. NSW recorded 1,259 new local cases and 12 deaths on Tuesday. Victoria has recorded 423 new cases of COVID-19 and two deaths, with 4,038 total active cases of coronavirus across Victoria.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 33.50 points or 0.45 percent to 7,403.80, after hitting a low of 7,378.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 31.50 points or 0.41 percent to 7,708.80. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday.

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

Oil stocks are lower. Woodside Petroleum is losing more than 1 percent, Beach energy is declining more than 3 percent and Oil Search is lower by almost 2 percent, while Santos and Origin Energy are down more than 2 percent each.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is gaining more than 1 percent, while Xero and Afterpay are edging up 0.5 percent each. Appen is relatively flat.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are all losing almost 1 percent each.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining, Northern Star Resources and Newcrest Mining are adding almost 1 percent each, while Gold Road Resources is edging up 0.4 percent and Resolute Mining is flat.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.732 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday, giving up some of the gains in the previous three sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei index off the 31-year highs and above the 30,500 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders were booking profits, even as they remain concerned about the domestic coronavirus situation.

Meanwhile, the downside is limited as traders remain optimistic that a new government will implement new economic measures to alleviate the prolonged impact of the pandemic.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 30,510.05, down 160.05 points or 0.52 percent, after hitting a low of 30,347.30 earlier. Japanese stocks closed significantly higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 5 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing more than 1 percent and Toyota is edging down 0.5 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is losing almost 2 percent, while Advantest is adding almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.3 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are down more than 1 percent each.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic and Canon are losing more than 1 percent each, Mitsubishi Electric is down almost 1 percent and Sony is declining almost 2 percent.

Among the other major losers, Tokyo Tatemono is losing more than 4 percent, while Nitto Denko, NTN, Tokai Carbon and Asahi Group are down almost 4 percent each. Sumco, Mitsui Fudosan, Tosoh, Taiheiyo Cement, NEXON, Fukuoka Financial, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Recruit Holdings and T&D Holdings are declining more than 3 percent each.

Conversely, Hitachi Zosen and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha are gaining almost 3 percent each, while M3 is adding almost 2 percent.

In economic news, the total value of core machine orders in Japan was up a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent in July, the Cabinet Office said on Wednesday - coming in at 859.7 billion yen. That missed expectations for an increase of 3.1 percent following the 1.5 percent contraction in June. On a yearly basis, core machine orders gained 11.1 percent - again shy of forecasts for an increase of 15.7 percent following the 18.6 percent increase in the previous month. The total value of machinery orders received by 280 manufacturers operating in Japan increased 11.7 percent on month and 49.3 percent on year in July, standing at 2,875.9 billion yen.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan are lower by between 0.1 and 0.8 percent each. South Korea is bucking the trend and is up 0.2 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks moved to the upside at the start of trading on Tuesday but came under pressure over the course of the session. The major averages pulled back well off their early highs and slid firmly into negative territory as the day progressed.

After snapping a five-session losing streak on Monday, the Dow slid 292.06 points or 0.8 percent to 34,577.57, its lowest closing level in almost two months. The S&P 500 fell 25.68 points or 0.6 percent to 4,443.05, while the Nasdaq dropped 67.82 points or 0.5 percent to 15,037.76, closing lower for the fifth straight session.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the day mixed. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled slightly higher Tuesday after the Labor Department said U.S. consumer prices increased less than expected last month, while traders also weighed the impact of tropical storm Nicholas. Crude oil futures settled at $70.46 a barrel, up a penny from the previous close.

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