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Japanese Market Modestly Lower

The Japanese stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday, extending the losses in the previous three sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei index falling below the 27,000 mark, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders cautiously look ahead to the Federal Reserve's highly anticipated monetary policy announcement later today.

Lingering concerns about the impact of the rapid spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant also remain. Japan topped 60,000 daily new cases for the first time and hit record highs each day since last week, with daily count of new cases standing at 62,599 on Tuesday.

The government is preparing to put 18 more prefectures under virus quasi-emergency measures following the 17 out of the 47 prefectures already under quasi-state of emergency from Friday for three weeks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 149.35 points or 0.55 percent at 26,981.99, after hitting a low of 26,858.68 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing almost 2 percent and Toyota is declining almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is gaining more than 1 percent, while Advantest is declining almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is slipping more than 2 percent.

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

Among the major exporters, Canon is edging down 0.4 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down almost 1 percent, while Sony is edging up 0.2 percent. Panasonic is flat.

Among the other major losers, Shionogi & Co. is plunging 6.5 percent and Fanuc is losing 4.5 percent, while Hitachi Zosen, Taiyo Yuden, TDK and Japan Steel Works are declining almost 4 percent each.

Conversely, Suzuki Motor is surging more than 6 percent and Dowa Holdings is gaining almost 4 percent, while Konami Holdings, Nintendo, Mitsui Mining & Smelting and Pacific Metals are adding almost 3 percent each.

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

On Wall Street, stocks experienced another session of intense volatility on Tuesday, with the major averages showing wild swings following the substantial turnaround seen over the course of the previous session.

The Dow fell more than 800 points in early trading before rebounding into positive territory but ended the day down 66.77 points or 0.2 percent at 34,297.73. The S&P 500 also briefly peeked above the unchanged before once again coming under pressure going into the close, slumping 53.68 points or 1.2 percent to 4,356.54. Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq fluctuated but largely remained firmly negative, plunging 315.83 points or 2.3 percent to 13,539.30.

Meanwhile, the major European markets rebounded following recent weakness. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices moved sharply higher Tuesday, recovering after the previous session's decline amid a drop in supplies in the market due to growing tension in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended higher by $2.29 or 2.8 percent at $85.60 a barrel.

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