Asian Markets Show Mixed Trend

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Wednesday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, on higher crude oil prices and as traders were reluctant to continue making significant moves following the recent strength in the markets. They also largely refrained from cashing in on recent gains amid easing concerns about the impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Asian Markets closed mostly higher on Tuesday.

Helping offset worries about the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has shortened the recommended isolation time to for asymptomatic people with Covid-19 to 5 days from 10 days. A new study from South Africa also indicated that those infected with the Omicron variant have increased immune protection against the delta strain.

The Australian stock market is significantly higher on opening after a Christmas break on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous four sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying just below the 7,500 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, amid easing concerns about the economic impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, even as the country registered record surge in infections.

New South Wales reported a new daily record of 11,201 new cases and three deaths on Tuesday. Victoria reported a new daily record of 3,767 new cases and five deaths. Queensland recorded 1,589 new cases.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 78.40 points or 1.06 percent to 7,498.70, after touching a high of 7,507.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 83.40 points or 1.08 percent to 7,828.10. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Friday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are edging up 0.2 percent each, while OZ Minerals and Mineral Resources are gaining more than 1 percent each. Rio Tinto is adding 0.4 percent.

Oil stocks are higher. Woodside Petroleum is gaining almost 2 percent, Origin Energy is adding more than 2 percent, Santos is up more than 1 percent and Beach energy is advancing almost 3 percent.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is edging down 0.1 percent, Zip is losing more than 1 percent and Afterpay is declining more than 2 percent, while Appen is gaining almost 3 percent and Xero is edging up 0.5 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are gaining more than 1 percent each, while National Australia Bank is adding almost 1 percent.

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

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.722 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is trading significantly lower on Wednesday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index staying above the 28,800 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, amid lingering concerns about the impact of the coronavirus Omicron variant on the economic recovery.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,809.86, down 259.30 points or 0.89 percent, after hitting a low of 28,729.61 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining 2.5 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda is flat and Toyota is losing almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Advantest are losing almost 2 percent each, while Tokyo Electron is down more than 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging down 0.2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are edging up 0.3 percent each.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is edging up 0.2 percent, while Sony is losing almost 1 percent and Canon is declining more than 2 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is flat.

Among the other major losers, Bandai Namco is losing more than 2 percent.

Conversely, J. Front Retailing is surging almost 8 percent, while Tokyo Electric Power and Isetan Mitsukoshi are gaining more than 3 percent each. Shinsei Bank and Unitika are adding almost 3 percent each.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 114 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, China, Hong Kong and South Korea are losing between 0.5 and 0.9 percent each. New Zealand is gaining 1.0 percent, while Taiwan and Singapore are up 0.2 and 0.3 percent, respectively. Malaysia and Indonesia are relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks moved to the upside early in the session on Tuesday but turned mixed over the course of the trading day. While the Dow managed to end the day in positive territory, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 moved to the downside.

The major averages finished the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Dow rose 95.83 points or 0.3 percent to 36,398.21, but the Nasdaq fell 89.54 points or 0.6 percent to 15,781.72 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.84 points or 0.1 percent to 4,786.35 after reaching a record intraday high.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K. markets remained closed, the French CAC 40 Index climbed by 0.6 percent and the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

Crude oil futures rose Tuesday, extending gains to a fifth straight session on hopes the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is unlikely to impact global economic recovery. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February added $0.41 or 0.5 percent at $75.98 a barrel.

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