(RTTNews) – Asian stock markets are mixed on Wednesday after comments by U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen boosted expectations of an interest rate hike in December. The market perceived Yellen’s comments to be hawkish.
Investors are also cautious as they await details of U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax reform plans, expected to be unveiled later in the day.
The Australian market is declining following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 12.70 points or 0.22 percent to 5,658.30, off a low of 5,654.70. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 10.90 points or 0.19 percent to 5,718.70.
Oil stocks are mostly lower after crude oil prices declined overnight. Woodside Petroleum is losing almost 1 percent and Santos is down 0.5 percent, while Oil Search is rising 0.4 percent.
Gold miners are also weak as gold prices slipped overnight. Evolution Mining is down almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is losing almost 1 percent.
In the banking sector, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.8 percent.
The major miners are also mostly higher. Rio Tinto is adding almost 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent, while BHP Billiton is edging down less than 0.1 percent.
APA Group chairman Leonard Bleasel will step down from his position next month and will be succeeded by former AGL Energy managing director Michael Fraser. Shares of the gas infrastructure company are edging down less than 0.1 percent.
AGL Energy has provided an outline of its plan to potentially replace generation from its ageing Liddell power station with a mix of renewables, battery storage, new gas-fired plants and an upgraded coal-fired plant. Shares of the power retailer are down more than 1 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar slipped below the US$0.79 level after Federal Chair Yellen’s comments. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7875, down from US$0.7931 on Tuesday.
The Japanese market is extending losses from the previous session despite a weaker yen.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 68.35 points or 0.34 percent to 20,261.84, off a low of 20,213.66 in early trades.
The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is edging up less than 0.1 percent, Canon is adding 0.3 percent and Panasonic is up almost 1 percent, while Sony is down 0.3 percent.
Among automakers, Toyota is declining almost 1 percent and Honda is down 0.3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are rising almost 1 percent each.
In the oil space, Inpex is advancing almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is rising 0.6 percent despite lower crude oil prices.
Among the best performers, Tokai Carbon is rising more than 4 percent, Nisshin Steel is advancing more than 3 percent and Ricoh Co. is higher by almost 3 percent.
On the flip side, Isuzu Motors is down almost 3 percent, while Keio Corp., Tobu Railway and Nissan Motor are losing more than 2 percent each.
In economic news, Japan will see September results for its small business confidence index and final August figures for machine tool orders today.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 112 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Indonesia and Malaysia are also lower, while New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan are higher.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday in choppy trading amid the release of some disappointing economic data, including a report showing an unexpected drop in new home sales.
While the Dow dipped 11.77 points or 0.1 percent to 22,284.32, the Nasdaq rose 9.57 points or 0.2 percent to 6,380.16 and the S&P 500 inched up 0.18 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 2,496.84.
The major European markets also ended mixed on Tuesday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed just above the unchanged line and the German DAX Index edged up by 0.1 percent.
Crude oil prices declined on Tuesday, falling from 26-month highs as traders took profits. WTI crude for November fell $0.34 or 0.65 percent to 51.88 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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