(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday, following the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, as major currencies in the region were hit by a stronger US dollar. Technology stocks are bearing the brunt after Barclays cut the iPhone maker Apple's rating to underweight and trimmed its price target. Asian markets closed mixed on Tuesday.
Traders now look ahead to a busy week of economic data, including key US jobs data and the latest US Fed monetary policy meeting minutes, for important clues to the economic and interest rate outlook.
Australian shares are trading significantly lower on Wednesday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 falling below the 7,600 level, following the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, with losses across most sectors led by technology and mining stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 75.00 points or 0.98 percent to 7,552.80, after hitting a low of 7,533.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 79.70 points or 1.01 percent to 7,787.70. Australian stocks ended notably higher on Tuesday.
Among major miners, Mineral Resources, Rio Tinto and BHP Group are losing more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is declining almost 2 percent.
Oil stocks are mostly lower. Santos is losing almost 2 percent and Beach energy is declining almost 1 percent, while Origin Energy and Woodside Energy are edging down 0.1 to 0.4 percent each. In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block is plunging almost 7 percent and Zip is losing almost 4 percent, while Xero, Appen and WiseTech Global are declining more than 2 percent each.
Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are losing more than 1 percent each, while Westpac is down almost 1 percent. Among gold miners, Newmont is edging down 0.3 percent, Resolute Mining is losing more than 5 percent, Evolution Mining is down almost 3 percent, Northern Star Resources is declining more than 3 percent and Gold Road Resources is plunging more than 8 percent after its 2023 annual production came at the lower end of guidance, partly because of labour shortages.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.675 on Wednesday.
The Japanese stock market is closed on Wednesday as the country continues to assess the damage from the earthquake that rocked the central region on New Year's Day. Japanese shares ended modestly lower on Friday ahead of the holidays on Monday and Tuesday.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 142 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan are lower by between 1.2 and 1.8 percent each, while New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are lower by between 0.1 and 0.6 percent each. China is bucking the trend and is up 0.1 percent.
On the Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Tuesday, extending the pullback seen in the final trading session of 2023. The Nasdaq showed a particularly steep drop, reflecting notable weakness among tech stocks.
The Nasdaq plunged 245.41 points or 1.6 percent to 14,765.94 and the S&P 500 also slid 27.00 points or 0.6 percent to 4,742.83, while the narrower Dow closed up 25.50 points or 0.1 percent at 37,715.04.
The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both dipped by 0.2 percent.
Crude oil prices could not hold on to early gains and showed a substantial downturn on Tuesday over escalating Middle East tensions. West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery surged nearly $2 to a high of $73.64 a barrel early in the session but pulled back sharply to close down $1.27 or 1.8 percent at $70.38 a barrel.
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