Asian Markets Mostly Lower On Stimulus, Vaccine Worries

(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday following the negative cues overnight from Wall Street amid uncertainty about a new stimulus bill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House struggled to reach an agreement on a broad relief package.

Investor sentiment was further dampened following news that U.S. health regulators have paused Eli Lilly’s late-stage trial of its antibody treatment for COVID-19 due to potential safety concerns. Earlier, Johnson & Johnson had paused a late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate due to an unexplained illness in a study participant.

The Australian market is little changed after gains in recent sessions and following the negative cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors also digested mixed earnings results from local companies.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is lower by 3.40 points or 0.05 percent to 6,192.30, after touching a low of 6,174.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 1.70 points or 0.03 percent to 6,398.50. Australian stocks rose for a seventh straight session on Tuesday.

In the banking space, Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are lower in a range of 1.1 percent to 1.7 percent.

Bank of Queensland reported a 61 percent fall in profit for the full year, slashed its annual dividend, and announced the sale of its St. Andrew’s Insurance business for A$23 million to private investment firm Farmcove Investment Holdings. The bank’s shares are gaining more than 4 percent.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is sliding 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals is down 0.2 percent, while BHP Group is edging up 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are weak after gold prices snapped a three-day winning streak to close lower overnight. Newcrest Mining is declining more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is down almost 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also declining, even as crude oil prices rose overnight. Woodside Petroleum is losing more than 2 percent, while Oil Search and Santos are lower by more than 1 percent each.

In the tech sector, Afterpay is rising almost 3 percent and Appen is advancing almost 1 percent, while WiseTech Global is down 0.4 percent.

Afterpay said that Australian regulator AUSTRAC will not take further action against the company as an external auditor report found Afterpay to be a ‘low risk business’ for money laundering.

CSL reported a more than 9 percent increase in its full-year net profit after tax and narrowed its profit outlook for the next year. The biotech giant’s shares are advancing more than 1 percent.

In economic news, Australia will see October results for the consumer confidence index from Westpac today.

The Japanese market is declining, while the safe-haven yen strengthened.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 73.06 points or 0.31 percent to 23,528.72, after falling to a low of 23,518.81 earlier. Japanese stocks closed modestly higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is advancing more than 1 percent and Fast Retailing is adding 0.5 percent.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Panasonic and Canon are losing more than 2 percent each, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are declining more than 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is higher by almost 2 percent, while Advantest is down 0.5 percent.

Among Apple’s suppliers in Japan, Taiyo Yuden is losing almost 1 percent and Murata Manufacturing is down 0.7 percent after Apple unveiled its latest smartphone lineup, including flagship iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Max overnight.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining more than 1 percent. Automakers, Toyota and Honda are down more than 1 percent each.

Among the other major gainers, J Front Retailing is gaining more than 4 percent, while Cyberagent and M3 are higher by more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Seiko Epson, JGC Holdings, Pacific Metals, Konica Minolta and Alps Alpine are all losing more than 4 percent each, while Mitsui E&S Holdings is lower by almost 4 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 105 yen-range on Wednesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Tuesday following the strong upward move seen over the past several sessions. The pullback may partly have reflected profit taking and uncertainty about a new stimulus bill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House struggled to reach an agreement on a broad relief package. Negative sentiment was also generated in reaction to news that Johnson & Johnson has paused a late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate due to an unexplained illness in a study participant.

The major averages all ended the day in the red, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq edged down just 12.36 points or 0.1 percent to 11,863.90. The Dow slid 157.71 points or 0.6 percent to 28,679.81 and the S&P 500 fell 22.29 points or 0.6 percent to 3,511.93.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index slumped by 0.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Tuesday, lifted by data showing a notable jump in Chinese crude oil imports in the month of September. WTI crude for November delivery climbed $0.77 or about 2 percent to $40.20 a barrel.

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