(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are trading lower on Thursday, tracking cues from Wall Street where the major averages ended weak overnight amid uncertainty about the outlook for the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus plan.
Energy, mining, financial and industrial stocks are among the prominent losers in the Australian market, where the mood is quite bearish following the release of a weak employment report.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is down 62.1 points or 1.2 percent at 5,042.1. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 5,055, down 54.5 points or 1.1 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac (WBK) are down 1.5 to 2.1 percent, and National Australia Bank is trading lower by about 0.6 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are down 1.1 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are down more than 2 percent from their previous closing prices.
QBE Insurance Group is down more than 6 percent. Fortescue Metals, Brambles, Iluka Resources and Qantas Airways are trading lower by 3 to 4 percent.
Newcrest Mining, Origin Energy, Westfield Group, Lend Lease Group, Macquarie Group, Toll Holdings, ResMed Inc. ( RMD ), Caltex Australia, Leighton Holdings, Commonwealth Property Office Fund and Beach Energy are down 2.3 to 3 percent.
Meanwhile, Oz Minerals is trading more than 10 percent up. Westfield Retail Trust, Ramsay Healthcare and Incitec Pivot are trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.
On the economic front, Australia saw a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 5.8 percent in November, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That was in line with expectations and up from 5.7 percent in October.
The Australian economy added 21,000 jobs in November - blowing past expectations for an increase of 10,000 following the addition of 1,100 jobs in the previous month. The participation rate was 64.8 percent - as expected and unchanged from the October reading.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower against the U.S. dollar. At noon, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9034, down more than a percent from Wednesday's close of US$0.9131.
The Japanese stock market plunged sharply, with investors indulging in some heavy selling across the board amid concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve will start scaling down its stimulus plan sooner than later.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which opened at 15,377.7, kept sliding as the session progressed and was down 249.3 points or 1.6 percent at 15,265.8 when the morning session ended.
Nitto Denko Corp. lost 19 percent. Sumitomo Chemical shares declined by about 6 percent. Konica Minolta, Kuraray Co., Nippon Electric Glass, Yahoo Japan, Nikon Corp., Chiyoda Corp., Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, Isuzu Motors, Japan Steel Works, Fujifilm Holdings, Fast Retailing, JFE Holdings, Softbank Corp. and Mitsubishi Materials were all down by over 2 percent at the break.
Shizuoka Bank, Panasonic Corp. (PC), Toho Zinc, Sony Corp. ( SNE ), Nippon Sheet Glass, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Nomura Holdings, Fanuc Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors were also down with notable losses.
Among the few gainers, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp. and Sumitomo Osaka Cement moved up by 2.5 percent and 2.1 percent respectively. T&D Holdings, Osaka Gas, Tokyo Tatemono, Kobe Steel and Bridgestone Corp. gained 0.5 to 1 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-102 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 102.68 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably lower. New Zealand and Malaysia are down with modest losses, while Shanghai is trading marginally down.
On Wall Street, stocks ended notably lower on Wednesday, adding to the modest losses posted in the previous session. The continued pullback came as traders expressed renewed concerns about the outlook for the Federal Reserve's stimulus program.
The major averages crept up off their worst levels going into the close but still ended the day firmly in the red. The Dow slid 129.6 points or 0.8 percent to 15,843.5, the Nasdaq tumbled 56.7 points or 1.4 percent to 4,003.8 and the S&P 500 slumped 20.4 points or 1.1 percent to 1,782.2.
Major European markets too ended weak on Wednesday. While the German DAX index dropped by 0.4 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 index edged down by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil dropped sharply to end lower on Wednesday, after the official Energy Information Administration's weekly report showed a significant, more-than-expected jump in U.S. gasoline stockpile last week, notwithstanding a massive drop in crude oil inventories.
Crude for January delivery dropped $1.07 or 1.1 percent to close at $97.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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