Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Tuesday amid reports of intensifying Republican opposition to President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package and on worries of rising coronavirus cases around the world. Investors also turned cautious ahead of the release of quarterly earnings results from major companies this week.

The Japanese market is declining after closing at a 30-year high in the previous session.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 149.50 points or 0.52 percent to 28,672.79, after falling to a low of 28,617.18 in early trades.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.2 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining more than 1 percent. In the tech space, Tokyo Electron is rising more than 2 percent, while Advantest is down 0.4 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a slightly weaker yen. Canon is rising more than 3 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is lower by almost 2 percent and Sony is losing almost 1 percent. Panasonic is unchanged.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 0.6 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is lower by more than 1 percent and Honda is losing almost 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, NH Foods, Tokyo Electric Power, Sharp Corp. and Seiko Epson are rising almost 3 percent each. Taiyo Yuden is higher by more than 2 percent.

Conversely, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is losing almost 4 percent and Olympus Corp. is lower by almost 3 percent. Fujitsu, Bridgestone, Yaskawa Electric and Tokyu Corp. are declining more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, members of the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy board agreed that the country’s economy was continuing to pick up modestly in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, minutes from the bank’s meeting on December 17 and 18 revealed.

The members added that they will continue to support easing until the inflation target of 2 percent has been reached, the minutes said, and they did not rule out the possibility of further easing in light of the economic stresses caused by the pandemic.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 103 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai and Hong Kong are all losing more than 1 percent each, while Singapore, Indonesia and Taiwan are also lower. New Zealand and Malaysia are higher. The Australian market is closed on Tuesday in observance of Australia Day.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Monday before eventually ending the day mixed. While the Dow closed modestly lower, the broader Nasdaq and S&P 500 reached new record closing highs. The continued advance by the Nasdaq came as traders expressed optimism about upcoming earnings from big-name tech companies such as Tesla, Apple and Microsoft. Traders also kept an eye on developments in Washington amid reports of intensifying Republican opposition to President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

The Dow climbed well off its worst levels of the day but still edged down 36.98 points or 0.1 percent to 30,960.00. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq climbed 92.93 points or 0.7 percent to 13,635.99 and the S&P 500 rose 13.89 points or 0.4 percent to 3,855.36.

The major European markets moved to the downside on Monday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.8 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.6 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures settled higher on Monday amid expectations of a drop in crude supplies. WTI crude for March delivery climbed $0.50 or about 1 percent to $52.77 a barrel.

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