(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly trading notably lower on Thursday, tracking cues from Wall Street where the major averages ended in negative territory following the U.S. Federal Reserve announcing plans to scale back its bond purchases by another $10 billion to $65 billion a month. A weak data on Chinese manufacturing activity is also hurting sentiment to a notable extent.
Mirroring widespread selling, all the sectoral indices are currently down in negative territory in the Australian market. Financial, consumer discretionary, mining, energy and industrial stocks are mostly trading notably lower.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which tumbled to 5,161.5, is currently trading at 5,174.8, down 54.2 points or 1 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 53.6 points or 1 percent at 5,187, off the day's low of 5,175.2.
Bank stocks ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are down 1 to 1.4 percent. Bank of Queensland and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank are down 1.6 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are trading lower by 1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Treasury Wine Estates is down more than 18 percent following the company downgrading its earnings guidance in the wake of weaker than expected sales.
Downer EDI is trading lower by 6.2 percent. Fortescue Metals, Monadelphous Group and James Hardie Industries are down 4 to 4.4 percent.
Toll Holdings, Challenger, Alumina (AWC), Graincorp, Tabcorp Holdings, Arrium, Myer Holdings, Leighton Holdings, Perpetual, Harvey Norman Holdings and UGL are trading lower by 2 to 2.8 percent.
Beach Energy is down 2.4 percent despite the company revising upward its production and capital expenditure forecasts. Navitas is down more than 2 percent despite posting a three percent profit increase.
On the economic front, export prices in Australia were down 0.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to the previous three months, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. That missed forecasts for a decline of 0.2 percent on quarter following the 4.2 percent increase in the third quarter.
Import prices dipped 0.6 percent on quarter - well shy of expectations for an increase of 2.0 percent after jumping 6.1 percent in the previous three months. On a yearly basis, export prices were up 6.2 percent and import prices climbed 5.2 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened lower against the U.S. dollar following interest rate hikes in Turkey as well as South Africa and the U.S. Federal Reserve's tapering announcement. Around noon, the local unit was quoting at US$0.8741, down 0.6 percent from Wednesday's close of US$0.8802.
The Japanese stock market plunged sharply, with investors indulging in heavy selling across the board following Wall Street weak cues and on the yen's rise against the U.S. dollar.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which plummeted to 14,853.8, was down 511.5 points or 3.3 percent at 14,872.4 when the morning session ended.
Among bank stocks, Shinsei Bank was down more than 8.5 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group ( SMFG ) lost over 5 percent. Bank of Yokohama, Chiba Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial ( MTU ) and Mizuho Financial Group ( MFG ) are down 2 to 3 percent, while Aozora Bank is down 1.3 percent.
In the automobile space, Hino Motors, Honda Motor ( HMC ), Toyota Motor (TM), Mitsubishi Motor, Suzuki Motor and Nissan Motor lost 2 to 3 percent, while Isuzu Motor declined by about 1.2 percent.
Tokyo Tatemono, Nikon Corp., Sumco Corp., Softbank Corp., GS Yuasa, Fuji Electric, Sumitomo Realty & Development, Konica Minolta and Trend Micro declined 4 to 6 percent.
Meanwhile, Central Japan Railway, Komatsu and Yahoo Japan bucked the trend, gaining 1 to 3 percent.
On the economic front, overall retail sales in Japan rose 2.6 percent on year in December, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Thursday. That missed forecasts for an increase of 3.9 percent following the upwardly revised 4.1 percent gain in the previous month.
Sales from large retailers added just 0.1 percent on year - well shy of expectations for an increase of 0.7 percent after gaining 0.6 percent in November.
On a monthly basis, retail sales were up a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent - topping forecasts for a gain of 0.3 percent following the upwardly revised 2.0 percent increase in November.
In the currency market, the yen rose to 102.09 against the U.S. dollar, before retreating a bit. It is currently hovering around 102.15 against the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Singapore are trading notably lower, while Malaysia is bucking the trend and trading marginally up. Markets in South Korea and Taiwan are closed for national holidays.
On Wall Street, stocks saw significant weakness on Wednesday, as a negative reaction to the Federal Reserve's widely anticipated decision to continue scaling back stimulus weighed on the markets. As was widely expected, the Fed announced plans to scale back its bond purchases by another $10 billion to $65 billion a month.
The major averages moved roughly sideways going into the close, stuck firmly in negative territory. The Dow tumbled 189.8 points or 1.2 percent to 15,738.8, the Nasdaq dropped 46.5 points or 1.1 percent to 4,051.4 and the S&P 500 slid 18.3 points or 1 percent to 1,774.2.
Major European markets too ended weak on Wednesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index dipped by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index declined by 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended slightly lower on Wednesday, after the official Energy Information Administration's weekly report showed a more than expected jump in U.S. crude stockpiles, with gasoline and distillate inventories declining more than anticipated.
Crude for March delivery ended down $0.05 at US$97.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching a low of US$96.32 intraday.
For comments and feedback: contact email@example.com