CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday, despite the mostly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders cautiously await the release the US Fed's minutes from its latest monetary policy meeting later in the day, which may shed additional light on the outlook for interest rates. U.S. President Joe Biden's remarks that he might drop trade tariffs on China also resulted in improved risk sentiment. Asian Markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday.
The Australian stock market is notably higher on Wednesday, recouping the slight losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 7,200 level, despite the mostly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, with gains in materials, financial and gold mining stocks offsetting weakness in technology stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 43.90 points or 0.62 percent to 7,172.70, after touching a high of 7,218.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 36.00 points or 0.49 percent to 7,409.20. Australian stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday.
Among major miners, OZ Minerals and Rio Tinto are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals and Mineral Resources are edging up 0.5 percent each. BHP Group is plunging more than 9 percent as its shares are trading ex-dividend for its in-specie dividend later in the day. It will distribute new shares in the newly named Woodside Energy to shareholders.
Oil stocks are mostly higher. Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.3 percent, Santos is adding almost 1 percent and Origin Energy is gaining more than 1 percent, while Beach energy is losing more than 1 percent.
In the tech space, WiseTech Global and Appen are losing almost 4 percent each, while Xero is declining more than 1 percent, Zip is down almost 2 percent and Afterpay owner Block is plunging almost 6 percent.
Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking is gaining almost 1 percent and Westpac is adding more than 1 percent, while Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are advancing almost 2 percent each.
Among gold miners, Gold Road Resources is gaining more than 3 percent and Evolution Mining is advancing more than 4 percent, while Resolute Mining, Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are adding more than 2 percent each.
In economic news, the value of construction work done in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent on quarter in the first quarter of 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday, coming in at A$55.663 billion. That missed expectations for an increase of 1.0 percent following the 0.4 percent contraction in the three months prior. It was up 1.4 percent on year.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.710 on Wednesday.
The Japanese stock market is slightly lower on Wednesday, extending the losses in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 falling below the 26,700 level, following the mostly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, with technology stocks tumbling to mirror their peers on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 26,713.08, down 35.06 points or 0.13 percent, after hitting a low of 26,578.03 earlier. Japanese stocks closed significantly lower on Tuesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing almost 2 percent and Toyota is edging down 0.2 percent.
In the tech space, Screen Holdings is flat. Advantest is edging down 0.1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is adding more than 1 percent.
In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is flat. Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.5 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging down 0.3 percent.
Among the major exporters, Sony, Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are edging down 0.4 percent each, while Panasonic is flat.
Among the other major losers, Mitsubishi Motors is losing more than 5 percent and Recruit Holdings is declining almost 5 percent, while Dentsu Group, T&D Holdings and Maruha Nichiro are slipping more than 4 percent each.
Conversely, Tokyo Electric Power is gaining almost 5 percent, while Toray Industries and Kansai Electric Power are adding almost 3 percent each.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 127 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan are higher by between 0.2 and 0.6 percent each. Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are relatively flat.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Tuesday, giving back ground following the strong upward move seen in the previous session. The tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a particularly steep drop on the day, ending the session at its lowest closing level since November of 2020.
The Nasdaq climbed off its worst levels of the day but still closed down 270.83 points or 2.4 percent at 11,264.45. The S&P 500 also slid 32.27 points or 0.8 percent to 3,941.48, while the narrow Dow managed to close modestly higher, up 48.38 points or 0.2 percent at 31,928.62.
The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.
Crude oil futures slipped on Tuesday on concerns about the outlook for energy demand due to China's increased Covid-19 curbs. Markets are also worried that aggressive monetary policy tightening by central banks to control inflation could tip the global economy into a recession. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for July fell $0.52 or 0.5 percent at $109.77 a barrel.
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