Asian stock markets are trading lower on Wednesday after a lack of news from Wall Street overnight as traders react negatively to the latest geopolitical tensions between the US and China. They are also hesitant to make significant moves due to lingering concerns about global economic growth amid rising interest rates. Asian markets closed mixed on Tuesday.
Traders await the release of US Federal Reserve meeting minutes and monthly employment data later this week to get a glimpse of future interest rate hikes.
The Australian stock market is down slightly on Wednesday, ceding some of the gains of the previous three sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index remaining just below the 7,300 level, after Wall Street had no news overnight, with losses suffered by gold miners and financial stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index loses 27.10 points or 0.37 per cent to 7,251.90 after hitting a low of 7,259.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 28.00 points or 0.37 per cent to 7,450.90. Australian stocks ended significantly higher on Tuesday.
Among the major mining companies, Mineral Resources, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals each rose 0.1-0.5 per cent, while BHP Group was down 0.2 per cent.
Shares in oil companies are mostly down. Woodside Energy is losing almost 1 per cent, while Origin Energy and Santos are down 0.2-0.4 per cent each. Beach Energy shares are up 0.5 per cent.
In technology, Afterpay, owner of Block and Xero are down 0.2-0.5 per cent each, while WiseTech Global loses more than 1 per cent. Appen is up almost 1 per cent and Zip adds more than 1 per cent. Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank are losing almost 1 per cent each, while National Australia Bank and Westpac are down 0.5 per cent.
Among gold miners, Gold Road Resources is losing more than 1 per cent, Newcrest Mining is down 0.5 per cent and Resolute Mining is down almost 1 per cent, while Northern Star Resources is up 0.1 per cent and Evolution Mining is gaining almost 1 per cent.
In economic news, the value of retail sales in Australia rose 0.7 per cent seasonally adjusted in May, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday, at A$35.524 billion. This was broadly in line with expectations after the figure was flat in April. On a year-on-year basis, sales were up 4.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, Australia's services sector continued to grow in June, albeit at a slower pace, as the latest Judo Bank survey showed on Wednesday, with the service sector PMI at 50.3. This was down from 52.1 in May, although it was still above the 50 line separating expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the composite index fell to 50.1 in June from 51.6 in May.
Japan's stock market is down modestly on Wednesday, continuing losses from the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 index just above the 33,300 level, after no signals were received on Wall Street overnight, with traders reacting to service sector activity data that showed the slowest growth in four months.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed the morning session at 33,303.00, down 119.52 points or 0.36 per cent, after hitting a low of 33,041.14 earlier. Japanese shares ended significantly lower on Tuesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is down 0.1 per cent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 2 per cent. Among car makers, Honda and Toyota are up 0.1 per cent each.
In the technology sector, Screen Holdings is up 0.2 per cent, Advantest is gaining more than 2 per cent and Tokyo Electron is down 0.2 per cent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining over 1 per cent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is up 0.2 per cent and Mizuho Financial is adding almost 1 per cent.
Among major exporters, Canon is up 0.4 per cent, Mitsubishi Electric is gaining over 1 per cent, while Panasonic is losing almost 1 per cent. Sony is unchanged.
By contrast, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is up 6.5 per cent, Daiichi Sankyo is up more than 4 per cent and Dai-ichi Life and Renesas Electronics are up almost 4 per cent each. Z Holdings is up more than 3 percent, while Nippon Yusen K.K., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Suzuki Motor are up nearly 3 per cent each.
In economic news, Japan's services sector continued to expand in June, albeit at a slower pace, as the latest Jibun Bank survey showed on Wednesday, with the service sector PMI at 54.0. This is below the record reading of 55.9 in May, although it remains above the 50 line separating expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the composite index fell to 52.1 in June from 54.3 in May.
In Asia, Hong Kong is down 1.2 per cent, while New Zealand, China, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan are down 0.1-0.6 per cent each. Malaysia and Indonesia are up 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively. Wall Street was closed on Tuesday for the Independence Day holiday. Stocks closed slightly higher on Monday.
Major European markets moved lower. Britain's FTSE 100 index was down 0.1 percent, Germany's DAX fell 0.26 percent and France's CAC 40 was down 0.23 percent.