Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Wednesday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders shrugged off concerns about the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus amid continued optimism about the economic outlook.
Recent data has shown some signs of slowing economic growth, but traders may see that as further proof the Federal Reserve will not begin scaling back stimulus anytime soon. Asian Markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday.
The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday, recouping most of the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 nearing the 7,500 level again to near all-time highs, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, aided by materials and energy stocks. Traders are also getting restless amid concerns about the worsening domestic coronavirus situation in New South Wales and the extended lockdown, with 233 new cases reported on Tuesday.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 22.90 points or 0.31 percent to 7,497.40, after touching an all-time high of 7,509.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 24.00 points or 0.31 percent to 7,774.50. Australian stocks ended modestly lower on Tuesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are gaining almost 2 percent each, while Mineral Resources is up more than 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding almost 1 percent. OZ Minerals is flat.
Oil stocks are higher. Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Beach energy and Origin Energy are adding more than 1 percent each. Santos is edging up 0.5 percent.
In the tech space, WiseTech Global is edging down 0.2 percent, while Appen and Xero are down 0.4 percent each. Afterpay is edging up 0.3 percent.
Shares in another BNPL player Splitit is soaring more than 21 percent on speculation that it might be also a takeover target after its larger peer Afterpay agreed to be picked up by US tech giant Square in a record deal.
Among the big four banks, Westpac is edging up 0.2 percent and Commonwealth Bank is gaining almost 1 percent. ANZ Banking is edging down 0.3 percent, while National Australia Bank is flat.
Among gold miners, Evolution Mining, Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging up 0.3 percent, while Gold Road Resources is adding more than 1 percent. Resolute Mining is losing more than 1 percent.
In economic news, the services sector in Australia fell into contraction territory in July, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed on Wednesday, with a services PMI score of 44.2. That’s down sharply from 56.8 in June and it falls firmly beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also said its composite index sank to 45.2 in July from 56.7 in June.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics also said that the total value of retail sales in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 1.8 percent on month in June, coming in at A$30.590 billion. That was in line with expectations following the 0.4 percent increase in May. On a yearly basis, retail sales were up 2.9 percent. For the second quarter of 2021, retail sales were up 0.8 percent on quarter and 9.2 percent on year at A$87.049 billion.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.741 on Wednesday.
The Japanese stock market is slightly higher on Wednesday, extending the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index staying just above the 27,600 level, ignoring the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, with traders remaining extremely concerned as the country continues to struggle to contain the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus, centered around Olympic city Tokyo.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,603.57, down 38.26 points or 0.14 percent, after hitting a low of 27,488.74 earlier. Japanese stocks closed notably lower on Tuesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing are losing almost 1 percent each. Among automakers, Honda is edging down 0.3 percent, while Toyota is edging up 0.3 percent.
In the tech space, Screen Holdings is gaining almost 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is losing almost 1 percent and Advantest is edging down 0.1 percent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is flat and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.2 percent, while Mizuho Financial is edging down 0.3 percent.
Among the major exporters, Panasonic and Mitsubishi Electric are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Canon is gaining almost 2 percent. Sony is losing more than 3 percent.
Among the other major losers, Nichirei is losing almost 12 percent, while Mitsui E&S Holdings is down almost 7 percent. Sumitomo Electric Industries is declining more than 5 percent, while Marubeni, Kyowa Kirin, Sumitomo Chemical and GS Yuasa are lower by more than 4 percent each. Kubota is down more than 3 percent, while Sojitz, Nippon Suisan Kaisha and Mitsui & Co. are losing almost 3 percent each.
Conversely, Takara Holdings and Z Holdings are gaining more than 9 percent each, while Daikin Industries and Casio Computer are adding almost 7 percent each. Nippon Steel and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha are rising more than 5 percent each, while Nippon Yusen K.K., Seiko Epson, JFE Holdings, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Kao are higher by almost 4 percent each.
In economic news, the services sector in Japan continued to contract in July, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed on Wednesday, with a services PMI score of 47.4. That’s down from 48.0 in June and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also said its composite index sank to 48.8 in July from 48.9 in June.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 109 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is gaining 1.4 percent and South Korea is adding 1 percent, while New Zealand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Singapore and China are higher by between 0.2 and 0.8 percent each. Malaysia is bucking the trend and is down 1 percent.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Tuesday after seeing significant volatility early in the session. With the upward move on the day, the S&P 500 ended the session at a new record closing high.
The major averages saw further upside going into the close, finishing the day at their best levels of the session. The Dow advanced 278.24 points or 0.8 percent to 35,116.40, the Nasdaq rose 80.23 points or 0.6 percent to 14,761.30 and the S&P 500 climbed 35.99 points or 0.8 percent to 4,423.15.
Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index edged down 0.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index advanced 0.7 percent.
Crude oil prices saw further downside during trading on Tuesday, extending losses from the previous session on concerns over the outlook for demand. West Texas Intermediate crude sank $0.70 or 1 percent to $70.56 a barrel.
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