Asian Markets Mostly Lower

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday following negative cues overnight from Wall Street amid fears that global banks could lose more than $6 billion from the downfall of Archegos Capital and sliding oil prices. Traders were also weighing the impact of a surge in coronavirus cases and extended lockdown measures in Europe. Asian markets closed broadly higher on Tuesday.

However, investors are optimistic on a global economic recovery as data from China showed that the country’s manufacturing activity expanded at the fastest pace in March. They also await U.S. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan to be announced on Wednesday, which is seen valued at around $3 trillion to $4 trillion.

The Australian stock market is significantly higher on Wednesday after two sessions of losses, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just above the 6,800 level, on gains across the broader market. However, the cues overnight from Wall Street were negative.

Meanwhile, investors continue to monitor developments amid a growing coronavirus cluster in Queensland and declaring Greater Brisbane a COVID-19 hotspot after 2.5 million residents were ordered into a snap three-day lockdown. Queensland reported eight new local Covid-19 cases linked to two clusters.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 107.70 points or 1.60 percent to 6,846.10, after touching a high of 6,862.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is higher by 101.10 points or 1.45 percent to 7,070.90. Australian stocks ended lower for a second day on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is gaining more than 2 percent and Rio Tinto is up almost 2 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Appen is losing almost 3 percent and Afterpay is down almost 2 percent, while WiseTech Global is gaining more than 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and National Australia Bank are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is up almost 2 percent.

Gold miners are lower after the gold price declined. Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources are down more than 1 percent each, while Newcrest Mining is edging down 0.3 percent.

Oil stocks are higher, with Oil Search adding almost 2 percent, Woodside Petroleum gaining 1 percent and Santos up more than 2 percent.

Shares in Resolute Mining are gaining almost 6 percent after the gold miner reaffirmed its full year guidance of producing up to 375,000 ounces of gold at a maximum cost of (A$1,365 or US$1,275 per ounce, despite the Ghanaian government revoking its Bibiani Gold Mine lease last week.

Myer announced the closure of its store in the Victorian region of Knox as part of the struggling department store’s ongoing plan to reduce floor space and revitalise the business. The shares are down more than 1 percent.

In economic news, the total number of building permits issued in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 21.6 percent on month in February, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday – coming in at 19,422. That beat expectations for a gain of 5.0 percent following the 19.4 percent slide in January.

Further, private sector credit in Australia was up 0.2 percent on month in February, the Reserve Bank of Australia said on Wednesday – unchanged from the January reading. On a yearly basis, private sector credit rose 1.6 percent – slowing from 1.7 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.761 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is lower on Wednesday after two sessions of gains, with the benchmark Nikkei index hovering around the 29,200 level, following negative cues overnight from Wall Street on bond yield concerns and sliding oil prices.

According to media reports, the weekly number of newly confirmed novel coronavirus cases in Japan has exceeded 10,000 for the first time in six weeks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,200.21, down 232.49 points or 0.79 percent, after hitting a low of 29,165.52 earlier. Japanese stocks reversed an early slide to end modestly higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.5 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 1 percent and Toyota is up almost 3 percent.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.1 percent and Screen Holdings is adding more than 1 percent, while Advantest is down almost 1 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining almost 4 percent.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is down more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are declining almost 1 percent each, while Sony is gaining more than 3 percent.

Among the other major gainers, CyberAgent is adding more than 3 percent and M3 is gaining more than 2 percent. Nissan Motor, Recruit Holdings, NEC and Casio Computer are up almost 2 percent each.

Conversely, Nikon and Shinsei Bank are losing more than 4 percent each, while JCG Holdings and Aeon are down more than 3 percent each. Seiko Epson, Alps Alpine, Taiyo Yuden, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, KDDI, Minebea Mitsumi, Nippon Paper and Nitto Denko are all declining almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, Industrial production in Japan was down a seasonally adjusted 2.1 percent on month in February, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Wednesday. That was shy of expectations for a fall of 1.2 percent following the 4.3 percent jump in January. On a yearly basis, industrial production shed 2.6 percent – roughly in line with expectations – after sinking 5.2 percent in the previous month.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia and Malaysia are down more than 1 percent, while Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore are all lower by between 0.1 and 0.7 percent each. However, New Zealand is up 0.9 percent and South Korea is edging up 0.1 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks regained ground over the course of the trading day on Tuesday after coming under pressure early in the session. The major averages climbed well off their worst levels of the day but still closed in negative territory.

The Dow slid 104.41 points or 0.3 percent to 33,066.96, giving back ground after ending the previous session at a record closing high. The Nasdaq edged down 14.25 points or 0.1 percent to 13,045.39 and the S&P 500 fell 12.54 points or 0.3 percent to 3,958.55.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index surged up by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices drifted lower on Tuesday after shipping traffic resumed through the Suez Canal. Traders were also weighing the impact of a surge in coronavirus cases and extended lockdown measures in Europe on near-term energy demand. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May fell $1.01 or 1.6 percent at $60.55 a barrel.

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