(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Wednesday, with investors mostly treading cautiously amid renewed concerns about the outlook for the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus plan.
In the Australian market, consumer discretionary, financial, information technology, energy and healthcare stocks are among the notable gainers.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 43.5 points or 0.8 percent at 5,277.7. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 5,271.9, up 42.4 points or 0.8 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac (WBK) are up 0.3 to 0.6 percent, while National Australia Bank is up with a gain of 1.6 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are up 1 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy are up with modest gains, while Oil Search and Caltex Australia are trading higher by 3 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are trading modestly higher.
David Jones is up nearly 6.5 percent despite the company reporting a six percent drop in full-year profit. Fortescue Metals, SP Ausnet, Arrium and Cochlear are up 3 to 3.6 percent.
ALS, Mineral Resources, Qantas Airways, Stockland, Federation Centres, Seek, Oz Minerals, Woolworths, Asciano, Spark Infrastructure Group and Navitas are up 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
In economic news, Australia's internet vacancy index decreased 1 percent month-on-month in seasonally adjusted terms in August, according to a report from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
The index decreased 15.5 percent over the year to August, with a decline in vacancies recorded across all the states and territories, and all occupation groups. In trend terms, the index fell 0.3 percent month-on-month. Compared to August 2012, the index was down 15.4 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9391, down 0.2 percent from Tuesday's close of US$0.9413.
The Japanese market drifted lower with investors pressing sales at several counters, tracking a weak lead from Wall Street.
Steel, non-ferrous metals, real estate and financial stocks opened on a weak note and were mostly trading in negative territory when the morning session ended. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 58 points or 0.4 percent to 14,674.7.
NTT Data Corp. lost over 7 percent. Ebara Corp., Kubota Corp., Mitsui Chemicals, Konami Corp., Oki Electric Industry and Nisshin Steel Holdings declined by 3.3 to 5 percent.
Yahoo Japan, Furukawa Electric, Sumitomo Electric Industries, Kobe Steel, Sharp Corp., NTN Corp., JX Holdings, Pioneer Corp., Fuji Electric, Trend Micro, Fujitsu and Canon Inc. ( CAJ ) also posted notable losses.
Among the gainers, Tokyo Electron Ltd. shares zoomed nearly 15 percent following an announcement from the company that Applied Materials Inc. has agreed to buy the company for $9.39 billion in stock.
Shares of Advantest Corp. ( ATE ) rose sharply in opening trades, but gave up its gains subsequently and was up just marginally at the break.
Tokyo Electric Power gained over 4 percent. Minebea, KDDI Corp., Citizen Holdings, Tokyo Gas, Nippon Electric Glass, Chubu Electric Power, Osaka Gas, Shionogi, Isuzu Motors and Nippon Suisan Kaisha were up 1 to 3 percent.
On the economic front, an index measuring corporate service prices in Japan was up 0.6 percent on year in August, the Bank of Japan said on Wednesday, standing at 96.1. That beat forecasts for an increase of 0.5 percent following the upwardly revised 0.6 percent increase in July (originally called 0.4 percent). On a monthly basis, prices dipped 0.3 percent after rising 0.1 percent in July.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 98 yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 98.64 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably lower. Shanghai, Hong Kong and New Zealand are trading firm, while Singapore is trading flat.
On Wall Street, stocks ended lower on Tuesday, after showing a lack of direction throughout much of the session. The selling pressure seen late in the trading day likely reflected renewed uncertainty about the outlook for the markets following the volatility seen over the past week.
The Dow declined 66.8 points or 0.4 percent to 15,334.6 and the S&P 500 dipped 4.4 points or 0.3 percent to 1,697.4, while the Nasdaq edged up 3 points or 0.1 percent to 3,768.3.
Major European markets closed higher on Tuesday. While the French CAC 40 index advanced by 0.6 percent, the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended lower for a fourth straight session on Tuesday, as supply concerns faded with geopolitical tensions in the Middle East easing considerably. Crude for November delivery dropped $0.46 or 0.4 percent to close at $103.13 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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