March 22, 2016 - 3:39 PM EDT
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Asian Markets Mostly Lower After Brussels Terror Attacks

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street. Geopolitical concerns following the deadly terror attacks in

and lower crude oil prices are weighing on investor sentiment.

The Australian market is lower in subdued activity. In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 31.60 points or 0.61 percent to 5,135.00, off a low of 5,124.00 in early trades. The broader All Ordinaries Index is declining 31.00 points or 0.59 percent to 5,199.80.

Among the big miners, Rio Tinto is declining 0.2 percent, Fortescue Metals is losing 1 percent, while BHP Billiton is lower by more than 1 percent.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is declining almost 2 percent and Evolution Mining is down more than 1 percent after gold prices fell overnight.

The big four banks - Westpac Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking - are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 1.6 percent.

In the oil space, Oil Search is declining almost 2 percent and Santos is lower by 0.6 percent after crude oil prices edged lower overnight.

Woodside Petroleum said it has put on hold its multi-billion dollar Browse liquefied natural gas project due to the challenging market environment. The company's shares are down 0.5 percent.

Nufarm has recorded a loss for the first half of the year, reflecting restructuring costs and poor foreign exchange rates. Shares of the agricultural chemicals supplier are losing more than 2 percent.

Building products group Brickworks Ltd. recorded an 82 percent increase in net profit for the half year, but its shares are lower by 0.6 percent.

In economic news,

will provide February figures for skilled vacancies.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the

dollar on Wednesday, recovering from losses following news of the terror attacks in
. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7623, up from US$0.7574 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is modestly higher in choppy trades, with a weaker yen lifting exporters' stocks. Investors are treading cautiously following news of the terror attacks in


In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 28.28 points or 0.17 percent to 17,076.83, off a high of 17,142.08 in early trades.

Among the major exporters, Sony is edging up 0.02 percent, Toshiba is edging up 0.05 percent and Canon is adding 0.6 percent.

Sharp is gaining 1.6 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the company and

Hon Hai Precision are discussing a lower price for a rescue package.

Automaker Toyota is up 0.4 percent, while Honda is losing almost 1 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.07 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is lower by 0.6 percent and refiner JX Holdings is losing more than 1 percent following the decline in crude oil prices overnight.

Nintendo Co. is losing 0.4 percent after it said it will end production of the Wii U video game console this year due to sluggish sales

Among the other major gainers, Kajima Corp is rising more than 3 percent and DeNa Co. is gaining more than 2 percent. Meanwhile, Taiheiyo Cement is losing almost 3 percent and Sumitomo Heavy Industries is lower by more than 2 percent.

In the currency market, the

dollar traded in the lower 112 yen-level on Wednesday, up from Tuesday's close in the upper 111 yen-range in

Elsewhere in

Hong Kong
South Korea
are modestly lower, while
New Zealand
are marginally higher.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday after recovering from initial weakness following news about the terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital of

. Some traders were already away from their desks ahead of the Easter holiday.

While the tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 12.79 points or 0.3 percent to a more than two-month closing high of 4,821.66, the Dow dipped 41.30 points or 0.2 percent to 17,582.57 and the S&P 500 edged down 1.80 points or 0.1 percent to 2,049.80.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.4 percent, the

FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both edged up by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil saw considerable volatility on Tuesday before closing modestly lower. In its first day as the front-month contract, crude for May delivery edged down $0.07 to $41.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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Source: News (March 22, 2016 - 3:39 PM EDT)

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