Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Wednesday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street as the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 hit fresh closing highs. However, concerns about the spread of the highly contagious Covid-19 delta variant in Europe and Asia, and the resultant lockdowns and fresh restrictions on travel in several countries are weighing on market sentiment. Asian markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday.
The Australian stock market is significantly higher on Wednesday, recouping the slight losses of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 shooting above the 7,300 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street. However, investors remained cautious as they braced for further updates amid a worsening domestic coronavirus situation.
Health authorities issued lockdowns in Sydney, Darwin, Perth and Brisbane over the weekend following several outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant. Five of Australia’s eight states and territories have been hit by outbreaks, with around 80 percent of the population under some form of restrictions.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 45.10 points or 0.62 percent to 7,346.30, after touching a high of 7,370.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 49.40 points or 0.65 percent to 7,614.90. Australian stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Mineral Resources is adding more than 3 percent. Fortescue Metals and OZ Minerals are up almost 2 percent each.
Rio Tinto, Australia’s second-largest mining company, has suspended operations in South Africa’s Richards Bay and declared force majeure on customer contracts as security fears at the site intensify.
Oil stocks are mixed. Oil Search is edging down 0.1 percent, while Santos and Origin Energy are losing almost 1 percent each. Woodside Petroleum and Beach energy are edging up 0.4 percent each
In the tech space, Afterpay is losing almost 1 percent and Appen is down more than 2 percent, while Xero is gaining almost 1 percent and WiseTech Global is flat.
Among the big four banks, Westpac and ANZ Banking are edging up 0.5 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is flat. National Australia Bank is gaining almost 1 percent.
Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is losing almost 1 percent, Resolute Mining is declining almost 2 percent and Gold Road Resources is flat. Evolution Mining is edging down 0.2 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging down 0.5 percent.
In other news, shares in Telstra are up more than 4 percent after the telcom giant sold 49% of its tower business to a consortium of superannuation funds for $2.8 billion and said it would pay out half of that sum to shareholders.
AGL, the nation’s largest energy supplier, has confirmed its plan to split itself in two in response to the accelerating pressure of the clean energy transition and a $2.3 billion half-year loss. The stock is down almost 4 percent.
Shares in Nuix are plummeting almost 11 percent on news of insider trading allegations involving its former chief financial officer Stephen Doyle.
In economic news, private sector credit in Australia was up 0.4 percent on month in May, the Reserve Bank of Australia said on Wednesday, growing from the 0.2 percent gain in April. On a yearly basis, private sector credit gained 1.9 percent, accelerating from 1.3 percent in the previous month.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.752 on Wednesday.
The Japanese stock market is slightly higher after giving up most of the strong early gains on Wednesday, reversing the losses of the previous two sessions, with the benchmark Nikkei index staying above the 28,800 level, following broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Meanwhile, traders are digesting weak local industrial production data, the first drop since February.
The news of another impending State of Emergency in Tokyo and other areas due to signs of resurgence in COVID-19 infections are also weighing on the market.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,815.10, up 2.49 points or 0.01 percent, after touching a high of 28,998.99 and low of 28,779.76 earlier. Japanese stocks closed significantly lower on Tuesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 1 percent and Toyota is flat.
In the tech space, Screen Holdings and is gaining more than 1 percent, Advantest is adding almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.2 percent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.2 percent and Mizuho Financial is flat.
Among the major exporters, Panasonic is edging up 0.4 percent, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are losing more than 1 percent each. Canon is edging down 0.4 percent.
Among the other major gainers, M3 is gaining almost 4 percent and Fujikura is adding almost 3 percent, while Chugai Pharmaceutical, Taiyo Yuden, and TDK are up more than 2 percent each. Terumo, Tokyo Tatemono, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Tokai Carbon, Minebea Mitsumi, KDDI and Yokogawa Electric are rising almost 2 percent each.
Conversely, J. Front Retailing is sliding almost 4 percent, Eisai is losing more than 3 percent and Takashimaya is down almost 3 percent, while Hino Motors and Marui Group are declining more than 2 percent each. Taiheiyo Cement, Astellas Pharma and Nippon Sheet Glass are lower by almost 2 percent each.
In economic news, industrial production in Japan declined 5.9 percent on month in May, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Wednesday. That was shy of expectations for a drop 2.4 percent following the upwardly revised 2.9 percent gain in April (originally 2.5 percent). This was the first drop since February. On a yearly basis, industrial production jumped 22 percent, missing forecasts for a 27.0 percent growth following the 15.8 percent increase in the previous month.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid-110 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, , Singapore is gaining 1 percent and Taiwan is adding 0.9 percent, while South Korea, Indonesia, and China are higher by between 0.1 and 0.4 percent each. Malaysia is bucking the trend and is down 0.4 percent. New Zealand and Hong Kong are flat.
On Wall Street, stocks failed to hold gains and ended flat on Tuesday as investors turned cautious and largely refrained from holding positions at higher levels as they looked ahead to crucial jobs data, due later in the week.
The major averages rebounded from losses in the previous session, ended with a small gain. The Dow ended the day with a gain of 9.02 points or 0.03 percent at 34,292.29. The S&P 500 settled at 4,291.90, gaining 1.19 points or 0.03 percent, while the Nasdaq ended up by 27.83 points or 0.19 percent at 14,528.33.
The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 climbed 0.21 percent and Germany’s DAX surged up 0.88 percent , while France’s CAC 40 edged up 0.14 percent.
Crude oil futures settled slightly higher on Tuesday, after a somewhat lackluster session with traders looking ahead to the upcoming OPEC+ meeting on Thursday. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for August ended up by $0.07 at $72.98 a barrel.
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