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Japan’s Nikkei lower as major automakers fall

Asian markets were mostly lower in afternoon trade on Wednesday. The Nikkei 225 slipped by about 0.7 percent in the afternoon, while the Topix index declined by 0.89 percent.

“If you look at Japan, the economy’s sort of improving and it’s not subject to the U.S. trade war right now,” Kevin Leung, an executive director of investment strategy at Haitong International Securities, said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday morning.

“If you’re looking from a longer term perspective… I’m not too worried about the Japanese market,” he added.

In Australia, the ASX 200 was higher by 0.3 percent in the afternoon, with shares of gold miners holding on to their earlier gains. Newcrest Mining rose by 2.85 percent while Evolution Mining was higher by 3.42 percent.

Over in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was lower by 0.52 percent in the afternoon.

Markets in China and South Korea are closed for a public holiday.

Japanese autos take a hit

Shares of major Japanese automakers fell on the back of poor September auto sales in the U.S., with Toyota falling by 2.56 percent while Honda saw losses of 3.84 percent.

Some analysts, however, say the drop in auto sales should not be a major concern.

“I don’t think it’s quite that bad, only because it’s compared to last September which was a really high month because of the replacement demand from Hurricane Harvey and you see that when you look at the (seasonally adjusted annual rate),” Karl Brauer, executive publisher at Kelley Blue Book, told CNBC’s “Street Signs” Wednesday.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate refers to a rate adjustment applied to data in a bid to remove the impact of seasonal variations.

Sharp offers update on OLED foray

On Wednesday, Japan’s Sharp announced that it would be selling its first smartphone with an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screen in Japan later in 2018. The company said it was looking to sell its OLED screens to other smartphone makers even though no deals had been reached yet.

Sharp’s entry comes as it seeks to catch up with other manufacturers such as South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and LG Display.

Following the announcement, shares of Sharp declined by 1.45 percent in the afternoon while stocks of parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry’s slipped by 0.51 percent.

Commodities and currencies

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 95.304 as of 11:52 a.m. HK/SIN, weakening from its earlier high.

The Japanese yen lost its earlier gains to trade largely flat at 113.70 against the U.S. dollar, while the Australian dollar saw a slight recovery but remained lower at $0.7178.

In the oil markets, prices were largely flat in the afternoon of Asian trade. The global benchmark Brent crude futures contract was at $84.81 per barrel, while the U.S. crude futures contract traded at $75.21 per barrel.

Source: CNBC

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