(RTTNews.com) - Asian markets are mostly trading weak, with investors treading cautiously amid lingering concerns about the partial government shutdown in the U.S., and its impact on the global economy. Some of the markets in the region started off on a firm note but retreated soon on selling pressure.
After trading flat till around noon, the Australian market declined sharply with investors indulging in some heavy selling in financial, healthcare, mining and energy sectors.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is down 53.2 points or 1 percent at 5,154.8. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 5,155, down 50.9 points or 1 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are down 0.8 to 1.6 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are also trading notably lower.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are down 0.8 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Monadelphous Group shares are down more than 5 percent. Downer EDI, Henderson Group, Bluescope Steel, Regis Resources, David Jones, Newcrest Mining, Qantas Airways, Santos and Lend Lease Group are all trading lower by 2 to 4 percent.
Sims Metal Management, James Hardie Industries, Arrium, Navidas, Whitehaven Coal and WorleyParsons are also trading sharply lower.
Meanwhile, Leighton Holdings, which posted some sharp losses last week, is trading 2.3 percent higher on bargain hunting.
Origin Energy, Transurban Group, Dexus Property Group, ALS, Iluka Resources and Toll Holdings are all up 1 to 1.8 percent.
On the economic front, Australia's construction sector activity continued to decline in September, but the pace of contraction was the weakest in almost three and a half years, a report from the Australian Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association showed Monday.
The performance of construction index, an indicator assessing the health of the building industry, rose to 47.6 in September from 43.7 in August. Despite the improvement, the index remained shy of the critical 50 points break even mark.
Growth in new orders drove an expansion in activity for the first time since April 2010. The new orders sub-index registered 50.8, its first rise since May 2010.
The activity sub-index rose 8 points to 51.9, ending forty consecutive months of decline. Despite the signs of improving demand, employment levels continued to decline in September.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened flat against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9440, down slightly from Friday's close of US$0.9443.
After opening higher, thanks to some bargain hunting, the Japanese market faltered with investors choosing to trim down positions amid concerns about the impact of the partial government shutdown in the U.S.
Bank, oil, communications and precision instruments stocks opened on a firm note, but gave up most of their gains subsequently. Electric power, manufacturing, real estate and non-ferrous metals stocks traded weak.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which advanced to 14,073.2 in early trades, was down 150.3 points or 1.1 percent at 13,874 at the end of the morning session.
Tokyo Electric Power lost nearly 7 percent. Taiyo Yuden, Sharp Corp., Mitsui Chemicals, Taisei Corp., Mitsui Chemicals, Olympus Corp., Tokuyama Corp., Sumitomo Chemical and Taisei Corp. were down 3 to 5 percent.
Chubu Electric Power, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corp., Mazda Motor, Obayashi Corp., Furukawa, Shimizu Corp., Casio Computer, Japan Steel Works, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Mitsubishi Motors, Sumitomo Corp., Fujikura and Sumitomo Metal Mining were all down by over 2 percent at the break.
Among the few gainers, Unitika was up 3.5 percent, Yamaha Corp. surged up 2.2 percent, Softbank Corp. and Citizen Holdings gained 1.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. surged higher after the company raised its profit forecast for the April - September half.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 97 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 97.10 on the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan are trading weak, while Indonesia, New Zealand and Singapore are up marginally.
On Wall Street, stocks ended modestly higher on Friday with a section of investors picking up stocks, amid optimism the government will soon find a solution to end the budget impasse.
The Dow ended up 76.1 points or 0.5 percent at 15,072.6, the Nasdaq closed 33.4 points or 0.9 percent up at 3,807.8 and the S&P 500 closed higher by 11.8 points or 0.7 percent at 1,690.5.
Major European markets too closed higher on Friday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged up marginally, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index gained 0.9 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended higher on Friday, mostly on supply disruption concerns after Tropical Storm Karen moved into the Gulf of Mexico. Crude for November delivery ended up $0.53 or 0.5 percent at $103.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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