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Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Wednesday, following the mixed cues from global markets overnight, as traders remain cautious and refrained from making significant moves ahead of the release of some key US economic data later in the week, including a closely watched inflation reading. Asian markets closed mixed on Tuesday.

The inflation data could have a notable impact on the outlook for interest rates, as US Fed officials have said they need greater confidence inflation is slowing before cutting rates.

Snapping a four-session winning streak, the Australian stock market is trading modestly lower on Wednesday after opening in the green, following the mixed cues from Wall Street overnight. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 is staying below the 7,700 level, with losses in energy and financial stocks partially offset by gains in iron ore miners and technology stocks.

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The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 3.80 points or 0.05 percent to 7,659.20, after touching a high of 7,682.30 and a low of 7,637.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 6.10 points or 0.08 percent to 7,916.10. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, Mineral Resources is gaining almost 3 percent and BHP Group is edging up 0.4 percent, while Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto are adding more than 1 percent each.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Energy is losing almost 1 percent, Origin Energy is edging down 0.2 percent and Beach energy is declining almost 1 percent, while Santos is edging up 0.3 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block and Zip are advancing almost 5 percent each, while Appen is skyrocketing almost 24 percent and Xero is gaining almost 3 percent. WiseTech Global is losing more than 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking and Westpac is edging down 0.1 to 0.5 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are losing almost 1 percent each.

Among gold miners, Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining are edging down 0.3 percent each, while Newmont is losing almost 1 percent. Gold Road Resources is edging up 0.5 percent and Resolute Mining is gaining almost 1 percent.

In other news, shares in Flight Centre are slipping almost 8 percent after the online travel planner reported that total transaction values for the first-half missed analysts’ expectations, though it jumped.

Shares in Neuren Pharmaceuticals are diving more than 10 percent after US sales of its Daybue drug came in below expectations.

In economic news, The value of total construction work done in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2023, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday – coming in at A$65.440 billion. That beat forecasts for an increase of 0.6 percent following the 1.3 percent gain in the previous three months. On a yearly basis, total construction work done was up 8.7 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.653 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday, giving up the slight gains in the previous session, following the mixed cues from Wall Street overnight. The Nikkei 225 is falling below the 39,200 level, with losses across most sectors led by index heavyweights and financial stocks as some traders booked profits following the recent gains in the market.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 39,191.99, down 47.53 points or 0.12 percent, after hitting a low of 39,075.47 earlier. Japanese stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging down 0.2 percent and Toyota is losing almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging up 0.1 percent and Tokyo Electron is gaining more than 1 percent, while Screen Holdings is edging down 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is losing almost 2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are down more than 1 percent each.

Among the major exporters, Sony is losing more than 1 percent, while Canon and Panasonic are down almost 1 percent each. Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among other major losers, Omron is losing almost 4 percent, while Renesas Electronics and Mitsui Fudosan are declining almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, DeNA is skyrocketing more than 24 percent, Fujikura is surging more than 6 percent, Tokyo Electric Power is gaining more than 4 percent and CyberAgent is advancing almost 4 percent, while Hitachi Construction Machinery and Sumitomo Chemical are adding more than 3 percent each. M3, Mitsubishi Estate, Konica Minolta and NTN are advancing almost 3 percent each.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia are lower by between 0.3 and 0.5 percent each, while New Zealand, South Korea and Indonesia are higher by between 0.3 and 0.5 percent each. Taiwan is closed for Peace Memorial Day holiday.

On the Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Tuesday following the modest pullback seen in the previous session. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before eventually ending the day mixed.

While the Nasdaq climbed 59.05 points or 0.4 percent to 16,035.30 and the S&P 500 edged up 8.65 points or 0.2 percent to 5,078.18, the Dow dipped 96.82 points or 0.3 percent to 38,972.41.

The major European markets also moved mostly higher on the day. While the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.2 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index closed marginally lower.

Crude oil prices moved higher Tuesday on supply concerns due to the disruptions in the Red Sea route and amid uncertainty about a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for April ended higher by $1.29 or 1.66 percent at $78.87 a barrel.

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