(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are mixed on Wednesday in subdued trading, with investors in a risk-aversion mode ahead of key political and economic events on Thursday. These include the U.K. elections, the ECB policy meeting and former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony.
The Australian market pared early gains and slipped into negative territory, with investors remaining cautious ahead of key political and economic events on Thursday.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 24.10 points or 0.43 percent to 5,643.40. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 22.50 points or 0.39 percent to 5,685.60.
The major miners are mostly higher. BHP Billiton is adding 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is declining 0.2 percent.
Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are higher by more than 1 percent each following the jump in gold prices overnight.
In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.5 percent.
Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices rebounded overnight. Oil Search is rising 0.5 percent and Woodside Petroleum is up 0.4 percent, while Santos is lower by 0.3 percent.
Among consumer stocks, Wesfarmers is losing more than 2 percent and JB-Hi Fi is down more than 1 percent.
Vocus Group said it has received a A$3.3 billion takeover proposal from U.S. private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Shares of Vocus are in a trading halt.
AGL Energy said it will invest A$295 million on a new gas-fired power station near its Torrens Island plant in South Australia. The company’s shares are up 0.6 percent.
On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that Australia’s gross domestic product expanded a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent on quarter in the first three months of 2017. That was in line with expectations following the 1.1 percent expansion in the previous three months.
The latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the construction sector in Australia continued to expand in May, and at a faster rate, with a Performance of Construction Index score of 56.7. That’s up sharply from 51.9 in April, and it moves farther above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar breached the US$0.75 mark on Wednesday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7509, up from US$0.7474 on Tuesday.
The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session, tracking the negative lead overnight from Wall Street and as the safe-haven yen strengthened. Investors are cautious ahead of key political and economic events on Thursday.
In late-morning trades, the Nikkei 225 Index is losing 34.94 points or 0.17 percent to 19,944.96, off a low of 19,908.07 earlier.
The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Panasonic is lower by 1 percent, while Sony and Canon are losing almost 1 percent each.
Shares of Toshiba are advancing almost 3 percent, extending strong gains from the previous session.
Among automakers, Toyota is losing 0.2 percent and Honda is down 0.6 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.1 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising 0.5 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is gaining more than 2 percent and JXTG Holdings is rising 0.4 percent after crude oil prices rebounded overnight.
Among the other major gainers, Konami Holdings is rising almost 3 percent and NSK is adding more than 2 percent. On the flip side, Unitika is losing almost 3 percent, while Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Daiwa House Industry are down more than 2 percent each.
In economic news, Japan will see preliminary April data for its leading and coincident indexes today.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid 109 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, New Zealand and Malaysia are also modestly lower. Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia are higher.
On Wall Street, stocks closed moderately lower on Tuesday amid uncertainty ahead of key events later this week, including the U.K. election, the ECB meeting and former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony. Trading activity was somewhat subdued, as a lack of major U.S. economic data kept some traders on the sidelines.
The Dow dipped 47.81 points or 0.2 percent to 21,136.23, the Nasdaq slid 20.63 points or 0.3 percent to 6,275.06 and the S&P 500 fell 6.77 points or 0.3 percent to 2,429.33.
The major European markets also moved to the downside on Tuesday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index closed just below the unchanged line, while the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1 percent.
Crude oil futures rebounded Tuesday amid speculation recent losses were overdone. WTI crude for July delivery climbed $0.79 or 1.7 percent to close at $48.19 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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