Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trades

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors also turned cautious as they looked ahead to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's speech to the Jackson Hole symposium on Thursday.

Analysts have suggested Powell will signal an increased tolerance for higher inflation, with some predicting he will call for a shift to "average inflation" targeting rather than the long-standing 2 percent target.

The Australian market is declining after Qantas Airways announced more job cuts to offset the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Investors also treaded cautiously after Victoria reported a surge in the coronavirus daily death toll.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 51.50 points or 0.84 percent to 6,109.90, after touching a low of 6,103.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 44.20 points or 0.70 percent to 6,287.70. Australian stocks closed higher for a second straight day on Tuesday.

The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac - are lower in a range of 1.3 percent to 1.9 percent.

Gold miners are also declining after safe-haven gold prices extended losses overnight. Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent.

The major miners are mostly weak. Rio Tinto is lower by more than 1 percent and BHP Group is down almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding almost 1 percent.

Meanwhile, oil stocks are mostly higher as crude oil prices rose overnight. Oil Search is rising more than 2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.5 percent, while Santos is lower by almost 2 percent.

Qantas Airways is facing calls from the Transport Workers Union to repay taxpayer-funded subsidies as it cuts another 2400 jobs, on top of the 6000 job cuts announced by the airline earlier in June. Shares of Qantas are losing more than 3 percent.

Whispir reported a narrower-than-expected underlying loss for the full year, its first as a listed company, while revenue grew 25 percent. However, the cloud-based communications platform's shares are losing almost 12 percent.

In economic news, Australia will today provide second-quarter numbers for construction work done.

The Japanese market is modestly lower following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street and as investors booked profits after strong gains in the previous sessions.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 50.93 points or 0.22 percent to 23,245.84, after rising to a high of 23,348.80 in early trades. Japanese shares closed at a six-month high on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is rising more than 2 percent and Fast Retailing is adding 0.2 percent.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Canon is higher by almost 2 percent and Sony is advancing more than 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining more than 1 percent and Panasonic is down 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is down 0.6 percent, while Tokyo Electron is adding 0.2 percent. In the financial sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining 0.6 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is is lower by 0.4 percent and Honda Motor is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is rising more than 2 percent and Inpex is advancing more than 1 percent after crude oil prices extended gains overnight.

Trading house Itochu has raised its stake in convenience store chain operator FamilyMart Co. to 65.71 percent via a tender offer. Shares of Itochu are edging up 0.1 percent, while FamilyMart is rising 0.4 percent.

Olympus Corp. said it is voluntarily recalling about 4,150 CHF-CB30S endoscopes sold mostly in the U.S. and Europe due to risks of infection or malfunction. The company's shares are down 0.6 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Toyobo Co. is rising more than 2 percent, while M3, Screen Holdings and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha are advancing more than 1 percent each.

Conversely, Takara Holdings, Toray Industries, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Daiwa House Industry, Recruit Holdings, Aeon Co. and Tokyo Tatemono are all losing more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will see final June results for its leading and coincident economic indexes today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 106 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong are also lower, while Taiwan is modestly higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mostly higher on Tuesday with the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 climbing to new record closing highs. The Dow closed modestly lower as Exxon Mobil, Raytheon and Pfizer moved notably lower following news they are being removed from the blue chip index. The three stocks will be replaced by, Honeywell, and Amgen. Traders were also looking ahead to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's speech to the Jackson Hole symposium on Thursday.

The Dow climbed well off its worst levels of the day but still finished the session down 60.02 points or 0.2 percent at 28,248.44. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq advanced 86.75 points or 0.8 percent to 11,466.47 and the S&P 500 rose 12.34 points or 0.4 percent to 3,443.62.

The major European markets closed mixed on Tuesday. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled by 1.1 percent, while the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both ended the session nearly unchanged.

Crude oil prices rose on Tuesday, fuelled by storm-driven production cuts on the U.S. Gulf Coast as traders look ahead to weekly inventory data. WTI crude for October delivery climbed $0.73 or 1.7 percent to $43.35 a barrel.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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