Asian Markets Mostly Lower

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday despite the positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors turned cautious following the increasing number of coronavirus infections in Beijing and the U.S. as well as on worries about rising tensions on the Korean peninsula and between India and China.

The Australian market has pared earlier gains and is now little changed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 1.10 points or 0.02 percent to 5,943.40, after touching a high of 5,983.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 2.80 points or 0.05 percent to 6,060.90. Australian stocks soared on Tuesday to snap a three-day losing streak.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is higher by 0.6 percent, BHP is adding 0.5 percent and Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are also higher after gold prices rose overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising 0.6 percent and Evolution Mining is adding 0.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks are mixed. ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are lower by 0.5 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is adding 0.4 percent and Westpac is up 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is losing almost 2 percent and Santos is down 0.4 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.3 percent after crude oil prices jumped more than 3 percent overnight.

Infigen Energy said it has received a rival takeover bid from Spanish utility Iberdrola that values it at A$835 million, after having earlier received a takeover bid from UAC, a unit of Philippines conglomerate Ayala Corp. The wind farm operator’s shares are rising almost 8 percent.

In economic news, Australia will see May results for new home sales and for the leading economic index from Westpac Bank today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6880, compared to $0.6941 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is declining, with investors booking profits after the market recorded strong gains in the previous session. Investors also digested data that showed Japan’s exports fell in May at the fastest pace since the 2009 global financial crisis.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 103.24 points or 0.46 percent to 22,478.97, after touching a low of 22,318.07 earlier. Japanese shares surged on Tuesday, with the Nikkei Index gaining almost 5 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is rising more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is down 0.4 percent.

Softbank confirmed media reports that the company is considering the sale of its stake in T-Mobile U.S., as part of its efforts to sell about $41 billion in assets.

The major exporters are mixed. Canon is declining almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.2 percent, while Sony is advancing more than 1 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by 0.2 percent while Tokyo Electron is adding 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda Motor is declining almost 1 percent and Toyota is down 0.4 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is lower by almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is declining 0.2 percent even as crude oil prices rose more than 3 percent overnight.

Among the major gainers, Z Holdings and Fujistu are rising more than 3 percent each, while Furukawa Electric and Cyberagent are higher by almost 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Nippon Sheet Glass, Isuzu Motors, Mazda Motor and Mitsui E&S Holdings are all losing more than 3 percent each. Credit Saison is lower by almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the Ministry of Finance said that Japan posted a merchandise trade deficit of 833.388 billion yen in May, down 13.7 percent on year. That beat forecasts for a shortfall of 970.8 billion yen following the 930 billion yen deficit in April.

Exports were down 28.3 percent on year to 4.184 trillion yen, badly missing expectations for a decline of 17.9 percent following the 21.9 percent drop in the previous month. Imports tumbled an annual 26.2 percent to 5.018 trillion yen versus expectations for a fall of 15 percent after sinking 7.2 percent a month earlier.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea is losing 1 percent, while Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia are also lower. Meanwhile, New Zealand is rising more than 2 percent and Indonesia is modestly higher.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied on Tuesday after a report from the Commerce Department showed retail sales rebounded by much more than anticipated in the month of May, as stores began to reopen following the coronavirus lockdown. Positive sentiment was also generated in reaction to report from Bloomberg indicating the Trump administration is preparing a nearly $1 trillion infrastructure proposal as part of an effort to support the economy following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow vaulted 526.82 points or 2 percent to 26,289.98, the Nasdaq jumped 160.84 points or 1.8 percent to 9,895.87 and the S&P 500 surged up 58.15 points or 1.9 percent to 3,124.74.

The major European markets also showed substantial moves to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index spiked by 3.4 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 2.9 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices surged higher on Tuesday, buoyed by an upward revision in the oil demand forecast for the year by International Energy Agency or IEA. WTI crude for July delivery jumped $1.26 or about 3.4 percent to $38.38 a barrel.

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