(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Wednesday, despite the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders book some profits and seemed reluctant to make significant moves amid ongoing concerns about the outlook for interest rates. They await upcoming data that is expected to provide further clues about interest rates hikes. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Tuesday.
The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying below the 7,300 level, despite the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, as gains in mining and energy stocks were partially offset by weakness in financial and technology stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 11.30 points or 0.16 percent to 7,269.70, after touching a high of 7,269.70 and a low of 7,216.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 14.10 points or 0.19 percent to 7,472.10. Australian stocks ended notably higher on Tuesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group, Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto are gaining more than 1 percent each, while Mineral Resources is edging up 0.5 percent. OZ Minerals is edging down 0.1 percent.
Oil stocks are mostly higher. Woodside Energy is gaining more than 1 percent, while Beach energy and Origin Energy are edging up 0.3 to 0.5 percent each. Santos is edging down 0.4 percent.
In the tech space, Xero and Appen ares losing almost 2 percent each, while Afterpay owner Block and Zip are gaining almost 1 percent each. WiseTech Global is declining almost 3 percent.
Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank and Westpac are losing more than 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are down almost 1 percent each.
Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Northern Star Resources, Gold Road Resources and Resolute Mining are adding almost 1 percent each.
In economic news, Australia’s gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2022, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday. This was shy of expectation for an increase of 0.8 percent and down from the upwardly revised 0.7 percent gain in the previous three months (originally 0.6 percent). On an annualized basis, GDP was up 2.7 percent – in line with expectations and down from 5.9 percent in the three months prior.
The manufacturing sector in Australia moved into expansion territory in February, the latest survey from Judo Bank showed on Wednesday with a manufacturing PMI score of 50.5. That’s up from the boom-or-bust score of 50 that separates expansion from contraction in January.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.674 on Wednesday.
The Japanese stock market is relatively flat in choppy trading on Wednesday, after the slight gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 staying above the 27,400 level, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, as weakness in financial stocks offset gains in technology stocks.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,446.91, up 1.35 points or 0.00 percent, after hitting a low of 27,305.37 earlier. Japanese stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is flat, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is up more than 1 percent and Toyota is edging up 0.3 percent.
In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Advantest are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.2 percent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing more than 1 percent, Mizuho Financial is down almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining almost 2 percent.
Among the major exporters, Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Sony and Panasonic are losing almost 1 percent each.
Among the other major losers, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Nippon Yusen K.K. are losing almost 4 percent each, while Casio Computer and Mitsui Fudosan are declining almost 3 percent each.
Conversely, Ajinomoto is soaring more than 11 percent, Pacific Metals is gaining more than 4 percent, Hitachi Construction Machinery is adding more than 3 percent and Nippon Express Holdings is advancing almost 3 percent.
In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to contract in February, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Wednesday with a PMI score of 47.7. That’s down from 48.9, and it moves further beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 136 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is up 2.7 percent, while China, Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.2 and 0.6 percent each. New Zealand and Malaysia are down 0.5 and 0.4 percent, respectively. South Korea is closed for Independence Day holiday.
On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Tuesday after ending the previous session modestly higher. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before eventually closing in negative territory.
The Dow slid 232.39 points or 0.7 percent to 32,656.70, ending the session at its lowest closing level in well over three months. The S&P 500 fell 12.09 points or 0.3 percent to 3,970.15, while the Nasdaq edged down 11.44 points or 0.1 percent to 11,455.54.
Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index is up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 0.2 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.8 percent.
Crude oil prices showed a strong move back to the upside on Tuesday following the pullback a day earlier, thanks to optimism about increased demand from China. West Texas Intermediate crude for April delivery surged $1.37 or 1.8 percent to $77.05 a barrel.
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