(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly trading lower on Tuesday, tracking cues from Wall Street where stocks ended weak overnight on profit taking.
Geopolitical worries, speculation about the outlook for the Federal Reserve's interest rates and caution ahead of the upcoming corporate earnings season appear to be prompting investors to refrain from making significant moves.
Financial, mining and energy stocks are trading weak in the Australian market. Industrial, healthcare and mining stocks are mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is down 8.7 points or 0.2 percent at 5,510.2, coming off an early low of 5,500.9. The broader All Ordinaries index, which declined to 5,488.6, is currently down 8.5 points or 0.2 percent at 5,497.8.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are declining 0.4 to 0.8 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is up marginally. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is losing about 0.8 percent and Bank of Queensland is up slightly.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are marginally lower, while Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are declining 2.5 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.
In the energy sector, Caltex Australia, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search are down 0.6 to 1.1 percent, while Santos and Origin Energy are modestly higher.
Aristocrat Leisure is losing about 2.4 percent. Flight Centre Travel Group, Beach Energy, Arrium, Challenger and Perpetual are declining more than 1 percent.
Meanwhile, Alumina (AWC), Treasury Wine Estates, Sonic Healthcare, Cochlear, Recall Holdings, Graincorp and Seek are moving up 1.5 to 3 percent.
Mineral Resources, Primary Healthcare, Rea Group and Orora are also notably higher.
In economic news, Australian business confidence improved in June, with the NAB business confidence index rising to 8, from a reading of 7 in the preceding month. The improvement was driven by strengthened confidence in almost all the industries, with the surge in construction industry confidence contributing the most. New orders remained stagnant in June, the same as in May.
Meanwhile, the business conditions index increased to 2 in June from -1 in May, ending the negative trend that started in the beginning of the year. Sales and profits were stronger in June while employment remained weak.
However, the employment index weakened in June, coming in at -3, after being unchanged in May. Capacity utilization fell to 79.3 percent in June from 80.2 in May.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened higher against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9387, up from Monday's close of US$0.9357.
The Japanese stock market recovered some lost ground after declining sharply in early trading, with a stronger yen and the overnight weak close on Wall Street hurting sentiment.
Shares from steel, non-ferrous metals and insurance sections were among the notable losers.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which declined to 15,225.1, was down 71 points or 0.5 percent at 15,308.5 when the morning session ended.
T&D Holdings, NKSJ Holdings, Tokio Marine Holdings, Advantest Corp. ( ATE ), Pacific Metals, MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Tokyu Fudosan Holdings, Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp. and Unitika declined 2 to 3 percent.
Marui Group, Japan Steel Works, Teijin, Mitsui Chemicals, Hino Motors, NH Foods, Konica Minolta, NTT Data Corp., Nomura Holdings, Toyo Seikan Group Holdings, Kansai Electric Power, Chubu Electric Power and Mitsubishi Motors also posted notable losses.
Panasonic Corp. (PC) will reportedly outsource production of system chips to Intel, aiming to shift away from consumer electronics. The stock was down by about 0.4 percent.
Among the gainers, Casio Computer was up nearly 6 percent after the company announced that it will buy back about 12.5 billion yen of shares.
Nippon Suisan Kaisha advanced more than 4 percent and Toho Zinc gained about 2.2 percent. Sapporo Holdings, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp., Astellas Pharma, Trend Micro, Fujikura and Kao Corp. were up 1 to 2 percent at the break.
On the economic front, Japan had a current account surplus of 522.8 billion yen in May, the Ministry of Finance said on Tuesday. That topped forecasts for a surplus of 429.9 billion yen, and was up from 187.4 billion yen in April.
The trade balance reflected a deficit of 675.9 billion yen - also beating expectations for a shortfall of 822.5 billion yen following the 780.4 billion yen deficit in the previous month.
Exports were up 2.0 percent on year to 5.718 trillion yen, while imports eased 0.4 percent to 6.394 trillion yen.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 101 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 101.77 to the U.S. dollar, against Monday's close of 102.6 yen per dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand and South Korea are all trading weak. Indonesia is notably higher, while Malaysia and Taiwan are flat.
On Wall Street, stocks ended lower on Monday, partly due to profit taking with some traders cashing in on the recent strength. Trading activity was somewhat subdued.
The Dow declined 44.1 points or 0.3 percent to 17,024.2, the Nasdaq slid 34.4 points or 0.8 percent to 4,451.5 and the S&P 500 dropped 7.8 points or 0.4 percent to 1,977.6.
Major European markets too ended notably lower on Monday. While the French CAC 40 index tumbled by 1.4 percent, the German DAX index dropped by 1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index slid by 0.6 percent.
U.S. crude oil futures tumbled to their lowest in a month on Monday. Crude for August delivery ended down $0.53 cents or 0.5 percent at $103.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest settlement since June 6.
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