The cautious sentiment from the last session continued through Asia’s Wednesday trading day, with major Asian indexes closing lower. Energy-related plays in the region, in particular, fell on weakening oil prices.
Markets on the move
The Nikkei 225 tumbled 1.57 percent, or 351.69 points, to close lower for the sixth straight session at 22,028.32. Most sectors fell, with energy-related stocks recording steep losses as oil prices declined further: Inpex tumbled 3.65 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration sank 4.23 percent by the end of the day.
Wednesday data showed the Japanese economy grew at a 1.4 percent annualized rate in the third quarter, topping the 1.3 percent forecast, Reuters reported. GDP rose 0.3 percent in that period, compared to the three months prior.
Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi edged down 0.33 percent to end at 2,518.25. Blue-chip tech stocks edged down and automakers were mixed: Samsung Electronics closed down 1.04 percent and Hyundai Motor rose 0.62 percent.
Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 edged down 0.58 percent to close at 5,934.24, marking its fourth consecutive session of declines. Energy stocks dragged on the broader market after oil prices declined: Beach Energy tumbled 3.62 percent and Santos lost 2.23 percent on the day. Resource stocks also ended the session in the red after economic data from China on Tuesday missed expectations.
“Shell’s exit from the Woodside register [on Tuesday] proved to be one of the leading catalysts for a bout of profit taking on the Australian stock market,” Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note.
Greater China markets came under pressure with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index off 0.69 percent by 3:00 p.m. HK/SIN. Mainland markets, meanwhile, finished lower: The Shanghai Composite lost 0.79 percent to close at 3,402.54 and the Shenzhen Composite lost 1 percent to close at 2,005.61.
MSCI’s broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan slipped 0.56 percent by 3:05 p.m. HK/SIN.
Stateside, equities closed lower in the last session as investors worried about the progress of U.S. tax reforms.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.13 percent, or 30.23 points, to close at 23,409.47, as shares of General Electric tumbled for the second consecutive session to close down 5.89 percent.
The lead up
In contrast to a slew of Chinese data points missing forecasts on Tuesday, economic reports released overnight in Europe was more upbeat. The 0.8 percent third-quarter growth print in Germany topped the 0.6 percent forecast in a Reuters poll.
In response, the common currency spiked as high as $1.1805 in the last session — its highest levels in almost three weeks. The euro held onto most overnight gains to trade at $1.1793 at 2:40 p.m. HK/SIN.
“[W]hile the GDP print provided the initial catalyst, the velocity of the move suggests that investors are finally discounting the European Central Bank’s dovish guidance in the face of stronger economic data,” Stephen Innes, Asia Pacific head of trading at OANDA, said in a note.
Elsewhere, U.S. Senate Republicans on Tuesday said their tax plan will involve the repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate that requires most Americans to have some form of health coverage. Markets are concerned about whether or not the tax plans can be passed before the year ends.
Investors also awaited the release of U.S. CPI and retail sales data due Wednesday during American hours.
Shares of Hon Hai Precision Industry fell 2.83 percent by the end of the day after the company reported that its third-quarter profit slid 39 percent compared to the year before. The fall in quarterly earnings was due to delays in product shipments, Reuters said.
One police officer was killed on Wednesday and another injured near Freeport-McMoRan’s copper mine in Papua, Indonesia, Reuters said, citing local police. The company had shut the access road to the mine following a shooting incident on Tuesday, Reuters added. That road had been closed just days earlier on Sunday following previous shooting incidents.
Japanese banks were also in the spotlight after Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group reported quarterly earnings on Tuesday. Of note, several of Japan’s largest banks said they would be cutting costs by reducing headcount or turning to automation, Reuters said. Financials broadly traded lower: MUFG closed down 0.77 percent, SMFG fell 1.51 percent and Mizuho Financial lost 1.36 percent by the end of the session.
The commodities trade
Oil prices extended losses after settling nearly 2 percent lower on Tuesday following a report from the International Energy Agency which reduced its projection for oil demand for this year and the next.
U.S. crude fell 1.13 percent to trade at $55.07 per barrel on Wednesday and Brent crude futures lost 1.27 percent to trade at $61.42.
Watching the dollar
The Australian dollar touched as low as $0.7573 during the session after data showed wages rose 0.5 percent in the third quarter, below the 0.7 percent expected by markets. The Aussie dollar last traded at $0.7589, compared to levels around the $0.76 handle seen earlier.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against six major currencies, was stable after falling overnight on euro strength. The index stood at 93.823 at 2:38 p.m. HK/SIN, compared to levels around the 94 handle seen earlier this week.