July 5, 2016 - 7:20 PM EDT
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Asian Markets Fall On Renewed Brexit Woes

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are sharply lower on Wednesday as investors fled risky assets and commodity prices fell amid renewed Brexit fears. Meanwhile, the British pound dropped to a fresh 31-year low against the U.S. dollar early Wednesday.

Worries about the economic and financial fallout of Britain leaving the European Union have gripped financial markets again. On Tuesday, three U.K. property funds halted redemptions, citing the need to raise cash before returning money to investors.

The Australian market declined following the negative lead overnight from Wall Street and the fall in crude oil prices amid renewed Brexit fears.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 41.00 points or 0.78 percent to 5,187.00, off a low of 5,179.80. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 38.10 points or 0.72 percent to 5,274.70.

In the mining space, BHP Billiton is losing 4 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are losing more than 2 percent each.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is declining almost 2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is losing 0.5 percent and Santos is down more than 3 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 0.8 percent to 1.6 percent.

Bucking the trend again, gold miner Newcrest Mining is higher by almost 4 percent and Evolution Mining is gaining almost 7 percent after safe-haven gold hit a two-year high overnight.

Downer EDI said it has won a A$250 million, two-year extension for its mining services contract at Stanwell Corp.'s Meandu coal mine in Queensland. However, the engineering group's shares are down 0.2 percent.

Fantastic Holdings said it will book a charge of A$9.1 million and also reduce its workforce following the closure of its loss-making Le Cornu furniture business. The company's shares are falling almost 7 percent.

Godfreys Group's shares are down almost 8 percent after the vacuum cleaner retailer said its chief executive Kathy Cocovski has resigned, after just five months in the job. She will be replaced in the interim by non-executive director and retail veteran John Hardy.

Virgin Australia has launched an A$852 million capital raising and intends to use the proceeds to pay down its debt as well as improve operations. The airline's shares are rising 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday amid increased risk aversion on Brexit fallout fears. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7463, down from US$0.7507 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is sharply lower, with renewed worries about the impact of Brexit dampening investor sentiment, while the safe-haven yen strengthened and dragged down exporters' shares.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 424.80 points or 2.71 percent to 15,244.53, off a low of 15,214.14.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is down more than 3 percent, Canon is losing more than 2 percent, Sony is declining more than 1 percent, and Sharp is lower by almost 1 percent. Shares of Toshiba are falling more than 4 percent.

Market heavyweight Fast Retailing is lower by almost 4 percent, while SoftBank Group is declining 2 percent.

Automaker Toyota is down almost 3 percent and Honda is falling almost 5 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by more than 3 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex and JX Holdings are declining more than 3 percent each following the overnight plunge in crude oil prices.

Among the other major losers, Taiyo Yuden is losing more than 7 percent and Nippon Kayaku is down almost 7 percent. Mazda Motor is lower by more than 6 percent following news that its joint venture in China will recall more than 74,000 sedans to replace Takata Corp. airbags.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 100 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is losing more than 2 percent, while South Korea and Taiwan are down more than 1 percent each. Shanghai and New Zealand are also lower. The markets in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia are closed on Wednesday for Eid-ul-Fitr.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mostly lower on Tuesday following the long Fourth of July weekend as traders cashed on the strong gains posted last week. Renewed worries about the impact of the so-called Brexit also weighed on stocks.

The Dow slid 108.75 points or 0.6 percent to 17,840.62, the Nasdaq slumped 39.67 points or 0.8 percent to 4,822.90, and the S&P 500 fell 14.40 points or 0.7 percent to 2,088.55.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.7 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures plunged Tuesday amid speculation markets are oversupplied during a time of significant economic uncertainty. Crude for August delivery tumbled $2.39 or 4.9 percent to $46.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Source: Equities.com News (July 5, 2016 - 7:20 PM EDT)

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