Asian stock markets are trading mostly lower on Wednesday, following the lack of cues overnight from Wall Street. Traders are refraining from making significant moves ahead of the release of the U.S. inflation data, due on Thursday, for indications on the outlook for the world’s biggest economy. Traders are also cautious amid the high coronavirus cases in most markets in the region. Asian markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday.
The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday, extending the gains of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just above the 7,300 level near all-time highs, despite the lack of cues overnight from Wall Street. Stronger commodity prices helped the big miners and energy stocks drive the market, but it gave away some of the gains on release of data that showed consumer confidence slipping for a second straight month in June.
Traders are also relieved after only one new locally acquired COVID-19 case was recorded, with the total tally of active cases also dropping to 83 in Victoria. The Victorian government is also set to ease lockdown restrictions as planned on Thursday.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 16.5 points or 0.23 percent to 7,309.10, after touching an all-time high of 7,334.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 20.00 points or 0.27 percent to 7,562.30. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group, Fortescue Metals and OZ Minerals are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is adding almost 1 percent. Mineral Resources is up more than 2 percent.
Oil stocks are mixed. Oil Search and Beach energy are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is down 0.5 percent and Santos is edging down 0.1 percent. Origin Energy is adding more than 1 percent.
In the tech space, Afterpay is gaining more than 1 percent, while Appen is losing more than 1 percent and Xero is edging down 0.4 percent. WiseTech Global is edging up 0.4 percent.
Among the big four banks, Westpac and National Australia Bank are flat, while ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are edging up 0.4 percent each.
Gold miners are lower as gold prices edge down overnight. Evolution Mining is losing more than 1 percent, while Resolute Mining, Northern Star Resources and Newcrest Mining are edging down 0.3 percent each. Gold Road Resources is edging up 0.1 percent.
In other news, shares in Brickworks are surging more than 9 percent after the building materials firm said it expects record-high earnings from its property assets, with a significant revaluation profit of around $100 million expected from its share in its joint venture industrial property trust with Goodman Industrial Trust.
The African subsidiary of global mining services contractor Perenti has won a significant contract to run Sandfire’s copper mine in Ghanzi, Botswana. The contract is expected to be worth $648 million over seven years with a possible one year extension. The stock is up more than 4 percent.
In economic news, consumer confidence in Australia softened in June, the latest survey from Westpac Bank and the Melbourne Institute showed on Wednesday with an index score of 107.2. That’s down 5.2 percent from the May reading, which saw the index slip 4.8 percent to 113.1. The latest fall in June is almost certainly due to concerns around the two-week lockdown in Melbourne as the survey was conducted during the first week of the lockdown.
Separately, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday that the total number of building permits issued in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 8.6 percent on month in April, coming in at 21,482. That came in line with expectations following the 18.9 percent rise in March.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.774 on Wednesday.
The Japanese stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday, extending the losses of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index just below the 28,900 level, following the lack of cues overnight from Wall Street. Traders also continue to be cautious after the government extended the COVID-19 state of emergency to contain the spread of the highly contagious variants of the virus.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,868.29, down 95.27 points or 0.33 percent, after hitting a low of 28,801.83 earlier. Japanese stocks closed slightly lower on Tuesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.5 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.3 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Mazda are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Toyota is edging up 0.4 percent.
In the tech space, Screen Holdings is losing more than 1 percent, Tokyo Electron is down more than 3 percent and Advantest is declining more than 2 percent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing more than 1 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down almost 2 percent and Mizuho Financial is edging down 0.4 percent
Among the major exporters, Panasonic and Canon are edging up 0.4 percent each, while Sony is losing more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down almost 1 percent.
Among the other major losers, Konami Holdings is losing almost 4 percent and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is down more than 3 percent, while Nissan Chemical, Nippon Yusen, DeNA, Taiyo Yuden, Seven & I Holdings and Rakuten Group are all lower by almost 3 percent each. Dai Nippon Printing, M3, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and Daikin Industries are up more than 2 percent each.
Conversely, Sumitomo Realty & Development is gaining more than 6 percent andTakashimaya is adding almost 4 percent, while Tokyo Tatemono and Tokyu are up more than 3 percent each. Toyo Seikan Group Holdings, Mitsubishi Estate and ANA Holdings are higher by almost 2 percent each, while Obayashi, Isetan Mitsukoshi, Nikon, Konica Minolta and Terumo are all rising more than 2 percent each.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 109 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan are lower by 0.2 to 0.3 percent each, while New Zealand, Indonesia and China are up between 0.2 and 0.4 percent each. Hong Kong is flat.
On Wall Street, stocks closed flat on Tuesday after turning in a lackluster performance as investors refrained from making significant moves, choosing to wait for the consumer inflation data, due later in the week.
Among the major averages, the Dow ended weak, settling at 34,599.82 with a loss of 30.42 points or 0.09 percent. The S&P 500, which hit a four-week high in early trades, closed at 4,227.26, up 0.74 points or 0.02%, while the Nasdaq closed higher by 43.19 points or 0.31 percent at 13,924.91.
Meanwhile, the major European markets closed mostly higher after a cautious session as investors digested the latest batch of economic data and looked ahead to U.S. inflation data. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 gained 0.25 percent and France’s CAC 40 moved up 0.11 percent, while Germany’s DAX ended lower by 0.23 percent.
Crude oil futures spiked on Tuesday on hopes that demand will continue to rise following reports that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca Covid vaccines are effective against the Covid Delta variant. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for July ended up by $0.82 or 1.2 percent at $70.05 a barrel, the highest settlement since October 2018.
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