Asian Markets Track Wall Street Lower

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Tuesday, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders largely stayed on the sidelines ahead of US Fed Chair Jerome Powell's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee later in the day and the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday for clues about the outlook for interest rates. Asian markets closed mixed on Monday.

The highly anticipated US employment report for February also could affect the outlook for interest rates.

Extending the slight losses in the previous session, the Australian stock market is slightly lower in choppy reading on Tuesday, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 retreated from all-time highs to stay above the 7,700 level, with losses in technology stocks nearly offset by gains in mining stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 3.50 points or 0.05 percent to 7,732.30, after hitting a low of 7,711.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 2.40 points or 0.03 percent to 7,994.10. Australian stocks closed slightly lower on Monday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto are gaining more than 2 percent each, while BHP Group is adding more than 1 percent. Mineral Resources is declining almost 2 percent.

Oil stocks are mixed. Origin Energy is gaining almost 1 percent, while Beach energy is losing almost 1 percent and Woodside Energy is edging down 0.4 percent. Santos is flat.

Among tech stocks, WiseTech Global is losing almost 1 percent, Zip is down more than 2 percent, Afterpay owner Block is declining almost 3 percent and Xero is slipping more than 1 percent, while Appen is gaining almost 3 percent.

Gold miners are mostly lower. Evolution Mining is surging more than 5 percent, Newmont is advancing almost 5 percent, Northern Star resources is gaining almost 4 percent, Resolute Mining is adding more than 4 percent and Gold Road Resources is up almost 3 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are edging down 0.1 percent each, while Westpac is edging up 0.1 percent. National Australia Bank is flat.

In other news, shares in Healius are jumping almost 15 percent after the beleaguered pathology group announced that Paul Anderson will step in as chief executive, following Maxine Jaquet's resignation.

In economic news, the services sector in Australia moved to expansion in February, the latest survey from Judo Bank said on Tuesday with a services PMI score of 53.1. That's up from 49.1 and it moved above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Meanwhile, Australia posted a seasonally adjusted current account surplus of A$11.8 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday. That beat forecasts for a surplus of A$4.8 billion following the upwardly revised A$1.3 billion surplus in the previous three months (originally a A$0.2 billion shortfall).

The capital and financial account deficit was A$9.730 billion, a turnaround of A$13.214 billion on the third quarter 2023 surplus. The net international investment liability position was A$836.635 billion at 31 December 2023.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.650 on Tuesday.

Giving up some of the gains in the previous two sessions, the Japanese stock market is notably lower on Tuesday, with the Nikkei 225 retracting from all-time highs to fall below the 40,000 mark, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, with losses in exporters and technology stocks partially offset by gains in financial stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 39,940.61, down 168.62 points or 0.42 percent, after hitting a low of 39,840.34 earlier. Japanese shares ended notably higher on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is also edging up 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing almost 1 percent and Toyota is edging up 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is declining almost 5 percent, Tokyo Electron is losing almost 1 percent and Screen Holdings is slipping more than 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining almost 2 percent, while Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are adding 1.5 percent each.

The major exporters are mostly weak. Panasonic is losing more than 1 percent, Canon is declining almost 1 percent and Sony is edging down 0.1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is gaining more than 1 percent.

Among the other major losers, DeNA is losing more than 4 percent, while M3, Hitachi Zosen, Tokyo Tatemono and Toppan Holdings are declining almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Obayashi UBE skyrocketing almost 18 percent, Kajima is soaring 7.5 percent, Taisei is surging more than 6 percent, Shimizu is gaining 5.5 percent, Fujikura is adding almost 5 percent and Nitori Holdings is advancing almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the services sector in Japan continued to expand in February, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Tuesday with a services PMI score of 52.9. That's down from 53.1 in January, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 150 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong and Malaysia are down 2.3 and 1.1 percent, respectively. New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia are lower by between 0.1 and 0.6 percent each. China and Taiwan are up 0.2 and 0.5 percent, respectively.

On Wall Street, stocks briefly managed to turn positive in the final hour, but failed to find support and ended marginally down on Monday, after a weak start and a subsequent long spell in negative territory.

The major averages all ended in negative territory. The Dow ended down 97.55 points or 0.25 percent at 38,989.83. The S&P 500 settled with a loss of 6.13 points or 0.12 percent at 5,130.95, while the Nasdaq ended lower by 67.43 points or 0.41 percent at 16,207.51.

The major European markets mostly ended lower. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index ended down by 0.55 percent and the German DAX Index drifted down 0.11 percent, France's CAC 40 gained 0.28 percent.

Crude oil prices ended lower on Monday on concerns about the outlook for energy demand after OPEC extended its output cuts to the end of the second quarter. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended lower by $1.23 or 1.5 percent at 78.74 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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