Asian Markets Showing Mixed Trend

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Wednesday, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, on continued COVID-19 worries and concerns over the outlook for interest rates. The doubts that existing vaccines will be less effective against the Omicron variant also weighed on sentiment. Asian Markets closed mixed on Tuesday.

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s also said during Congressional testimony that the recent surge in new Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant pose downside risks to employment and economic activity as well as increased uncertainty for inflation and monetary policy.

The Australian stock market is significantly lower on Wednesday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 falling below the 7,200 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, after Australia confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant, stoking fears of new restrictions. The doubts that existing vaccines will be less effective against the Omicron also weighed on sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 21.10 points or 0.29 percent to 7,234.90, after hitting a low of 7,183.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 27.60 points or 0.36 percent to 7,559.80. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is edging up 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto is gaining almost 1 percent, while OZ Minerals and Fortescue are flat. Mineral Resources is losing more than 2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Petroleum is losing almost 1 percent and Santos is down more than 1 percent, while Origin Energy and Beach energy are declining more than 2 percent each. Oil Search is rising almost 2 percent.

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

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking is losing almost 1 percent, while National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are edging down 0.3 percent each.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is declining almost 2 percent and Gold Road Resources is losing more than 2 percent, while Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging down 0.5 percent each. Resolute Mining is edging up 0.5 percent

In economic news, Australia’s gross domestic product expanded 3.9 percent on year in the third quarter of 2021, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday – beating forecasts for an increase of 3.0 percent following the 9.6 percent jump in the previous three months. On a seasonally adjusted quarterly basis, GDP was down 1.9 percent – but that also beat forecasts for a drop of 2.7 percent after rising 0.7 percent in the three months prior.

Capital expenditure was up 0.2 percent on quarter, slowing from 3.2 percent in Q2. The GDP deflator was up 1.3 percent on quarter after rising 2.5 percent in the second quarter. GDP final consumption slipped 2.4 percent on quarter after gaining 1.2 percent in the previous three months.

Further, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in November, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed on Wednesday, with a manufacturing PMI score of 59.2. That’s up from 58.2 in October and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. This marks the eighteenth straight month in which the sector grew and at the third-fastest rate on record.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.715 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly higher in choppy trading on Wednesday, recouping some of the sharp losses in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index breaking back above the 28,000 level, despite the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, after the Japanese government stepped up virus containment measures on confirming the country’s first Omicron variant case.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,047.62, up 225.86 points or 0.81 percent, after touching a high of 28,106.30 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 2 percent and Toyota is adding more than 2 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are edging up 0.2 percent each, while Advantest is gaining almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are edging up 0.2 percent each, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding almost 1 percent.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic and Sony are flat, while Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.5 percent and Canon is gaining almost 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Seiko Epson is adding almost 5 percent, while Toto, Fanuc and Oji Holdings are gaining almost 4 percent. Daikin Industries is up more than 3 percent, while Ricoh, Yaskawa Electric, NEC, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Mitsui Fudosan, Seven & I Holdings, Nippon Paper Industries, and Nippon Yusen K.K. are rising almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, CyberAgent and Z Holdings are losing more than 3 percent each.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in November, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank showed on Wednesday with a seasonally adjusted manufacturing PMI score of 54.5. That’s up from 53.2 in October and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. This signaled the strongest improvement in the health of the sector since January 2018, and the tenth consecutive month of overall growth.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 113 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong and South Korea are soaring 1.6 percent each, Singapore is surging 1.5 percent, while Taiwan and Indonesia are up 0.3 and 0.8 percent, respectively. New Zealand and Malaysia are down 0.1 and 0.7 percent, respectively. China is relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply lower during trading on Tuesday, largely offsetting the notable rebound seen in the previous session. With the steep drop on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 fell to their lowest closing levels in at least a month.

The major averages saw continued weakness going into the close of trading. The Dow plunged 652.22 points or 1.9 percent to 34,483.72, the Nasdaq slumped 245.14 points or 1.6 percent to 15,537.69 and the S&P 500 tumbled 88.27 points or 1.9 percent to 4,567.00.

The major European markets all also moved to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index slumped by 1.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.8 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices declined sharply on Tuesday amid fresh concerns about the outlook for oil and jet fuel demand. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for January ended down by $3.77 or 5.4 percent at $66.18 a barrel.

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