Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

asiancommentary dec03 24jan23 lt

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Wednesday, following the mixed cues from global markets overnight, with traders cautiously assessing recent economic data and remaining optimistic about the US Fed further slowing the pace of interest rate hikes next week following recent comments from Fed officials. Some traders are also indulging in booking profits after recent gains. Asian Markets closed mostly higher on Tuesday.

The Australian stock market is trading slightly lower on Wednesday after being marginally in the green earlier, snapping a five-session winning streak, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying below the 7,500 level, following the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, with weakness across most sectors after domestic inflation figures came in higher than expected.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 9.90 points or 0.13 percent to 7,480.50, after hitting a low of 7453.10 and a high of 7,507.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 9.90 points or 0.13 percent to 7,700.60. Australian stocks ended modestly higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group, Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto are losing almost 1 percent each, while Mineral Resources is declining more than 4 percent. OZ Minerals is edging up 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Beach energy and Woodside Energy are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Santos is losing almost 1 percent. Origin Energy is gaining almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block is losing more than 2 percent, WiseTech Global is down almost 1 percent and Xero is declining almost 2 percent, while Appen is edging up 0.4 percent and Zip is gaining more than 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are flat.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is losing 1.5 percent and Gold Road Resources is losing almost 2 percent, while Evolution Mining and Resolute Mining are declining almost 3 percent each. Northern Star Resources is flat.

In economic news, consumer prices in Australia were up 7.8 percent on year in the fourth quarter of 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday - exceeding estimates for 7.5 percent and accelerating from 7.3 percent in the three months prior. On a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, inflation climbed 1.9 percent - again beating forecasts for 1.6 percent and up from 1.8 percent in Q3.

The Reserve Bank of Australia's trimmed mean was up 1.7 percent on quarter and 6.9 percent on year after rising 1.8 percent on quarter and 6.1 percent on year in the previous three months. The RBA's weighted median advanced 1.6 percent on quarter and 5.8 percent on year, up from 1.4 percent on quarter and 5.0 percent on year in the third quarter.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.710 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher in choppy trading on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous three sessions, with the Nikkei 225 moving above the 27,300 level, following the mixed cues from global markets overnight, as traders indulged in profit taking after the recent rally amid optimism the US Fed will scale down the pace of its interest rate hikes.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,329.36, up 30.17 points or 0.11 percent, after touching a high of 27,353.92 and a low of 27,175.88 earlier. Japanese stocks ended sharply higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is flat, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.5 percent. Among automakers, Honda is flat, while Toyota is edging down 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Advantest is losing almost 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are all relatively flat.

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

Among the other major losers, Nidec is losing 5.5 percent.

Conversely, Dai Nippon Printing is soaring more than 11 percent and Suzuki Motor is gaining more than 4 percent, while Toppan and Nippon Steel are adding almost 4 percent. Tokyo Electric Power is up almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 130 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore and South Korea are up 1.6 and 1.3 percent, respectively. New Zealand is up 0.5 percent. Malaysia and Indonesia are down 0.2 and 03 percent, respectively. Markets in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong remain closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a relatively lackluster performance during trading on Tuesday after moving sharply higher for two straight sessions. The major averages fluctuated over the course of the session before eventually closing mixed.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 30.14 points or 0.3 percent to 11,334.27 after leading the two-day rally. The S&P 500 also edged down 2.86 points or 0.1 percent to 4,016.95, while the Dow rose 104.40 points or 0.3 percent to 33,733.96.

The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices fell sharply Tuesday on concerns about the outlook for demand due to a potential recession in Europe and the U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for March ended lower by $1.49 or 1.8 percent at $80.13 a barrel.

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