Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trade

Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Wednesday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, on sinking oil prices, a strong U.S. dollar and expected profit taking. Traders also remain somewhat concerned about the outlook for monetary policy and await Wednesday’s release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s June meeting. Asian markets closed mixed 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 just above the 7,300 level, as gold miners and technology stocks provided the boost. However, traders remain concerned amid the worsening domestic coronavirus situation. The cues overnight from Wall Street were mixed.

NSW health authorities reported 27 new coronavirus cases, with the lockdown in Greater Sydney to be extended by a week until July 16.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 58.30 points or 0.80 percent to the day’s high of 7,320.10. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 59.60 points or 0.79 percent to 7,591.00. Australian stocks ended modestly lower on Tuesday.

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

Oil stocks are lower after crude oil prices tumbled overnight. Oil Search, Origin Energy and Santos are losing almost 2 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is down more than 2 percent and Beach energy is declining more than 1 percent.

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

Among the big four banks, Westpac and ANZ Banking are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is edging up 0.2 percent. National Australia Bank is flat.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining, Northern Star Resources, Newcrest Mining and Gold Road Resources are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Resolute Mining is adding more than 3 percent.

In other news, shares in CleanSpace Holdings are plummeting almost 17 percent after the respirator firm told investors it expects the second half results to be down sequentially due to the disrupted purchasing patterns of its workplace breathing equipment amid US vaccination rollouts, oversupply of disposable masks, and extended lockdowns.

Shares in Challenger Financial Group are soaring almost 12 percent after private equity firms Apollo Management and Athene Life Re jointly bought an 18 percent stake from Caledonia Private Investments.

Online marketplace MyDeal showed in its unaudited full year figures that gross sales soared 111 percent to $218 million and the number of active customers surged 83 percent to nearly 850,000. The stock is up more than 5 percent.

In economic news, the services sector in Australia continued to expand in June, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed on Wednesday, with a Performance of Services Index score of 57.8. That’s down from 61.2 in May, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.749 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly lower after opening with steep losses on Wednesday, paring the gains of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index falling below the 28,400 level, as traders remain spooked by the recent acceleration in the new wave of coronavirus cases, particularly in Olympic city Tokyo. The cues overnight from Wall Street were mixed.

Tokyo reported 593 fresh coronavirus infections on Tuesday. The Japanese government is potentially keeping the quasi-state of emergency covering the Tokyo in place during the Summer Olympics.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,363.82, down 279.39 points or 0.98 percent, after hitting a low of 28,161.75 earlier. Japanese stocks closed marginally higher on Tuesday.

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

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are losing almost 1 percent each, while Advantest is down more than 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial, Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are losing almost 2 percent each.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic, Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are edging down 0.6 percent each, while Sony is losing almost 1 percent.

Among the other major losers, Mitsui E&S Holdings is losing more than 5 percent and T&D Holdings is down more than 4 percent, while Inpex, Dai-ichi Life Holdings, Credit Saison, Kikkoman, Amada and Shin-Etsu Chemical are lower by more than 3 percent each. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, IHI, Komatsu, Asahi Kasei, Idemitsu Kosan, Hino Motors, Chiba Bank and Sumitomo Heavy Industries are all declining almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Yamato Holdings is gaining almost 4 percent, while CyberAgent and Z Holdings are adding almost 2 percent each.

In economic news, Japan will see preliminary May results for its leading and coincident economic indexes; in April, their scores were 103.8 and 95.3, respectively.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid-110 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, , Singapore is losing 1.3 percent and Hong Kong is down 0.9 percent, while New Zealand, Malaysia and South Korea are lower by between 0.3 and 0.6 percent each. Taiwan, China and Indonesia are flat.

On Wall Street, stock indexes turned in a mixed performance during trading on Tuesday, following the strong upward move seen last week. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new record closing high, the Dow and the S&P 500 gave back ground.

The Dow and the S&P 500 climbed well off their worst levels but still closed in the red. The Dow slid 208.98 points or 0.6 percent to 34,577.37 and the S&P 500 dipped 8.80 points or 0.2 percent to 4,343.54, but the Nasdaq rose 24.32 points or 0.2 percent to 14,663.64.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both slid by 0.9 percent.

Crude oil futures settled sharply lower Tuesday as prices plunged after hitting a near seven-year high amid uncertainty about the major oil producers’ production policy. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August ended down by $1.79 or 2.4 percent at $73.37 a barrel.

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