The Japanese stock market is declining on Wednesday, tracking the negative lead overnight from Wall Street and following news that North Korea has abruptly cancelled talks with South Korea slated for Wednesday.

Investors also digested data that showed the Japanese contracted in the first quarter, snapping a string of eight straight quarters of expansion.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 73.69 points or 0.32 percent to 22,744.33, off a low of 22,727.07 earlier.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is declining more than 2 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is lower by more than 1 percent and Canon is down 0.2 percent, while Sony is adding 0.2 percent.

Automaker Toyota is advancing almost 1 percent and Honda is edging up less than 0.1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 3 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing 0.5 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is declining more than 1 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is higher by more than 2 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by almost 1 percent, while Alps Electric and Kyocera is declining more than 1 percent each.

Among the market's best performers, Toyo Seikan Group Holdings is gaining 10 precent, Japan Steel Works is rising more than 4 percent and NTN Corp is higher by more than 4 percent.

On the flip side, Ebara Corp. and Japan Post Holdings are declining more than 4 percent each, while Kuraray Co. is losing almost 4 percent.

In economic news, Japan's gross domestic product or GDP was down 0.2 percent on quarter in the first three months of 2018, the Cabinet Office said in Wednesday's preliminary reading.

That was shy of expectations for a flat reading, following the downwardly revised 0.1 percent gain in the three months prior. The poor first quarter snapped a string of eight straight quarters of expansion for the Japanese economy, which had marked the longest such streak in more than three years.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Wednesday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed notably lower on Tuesday as negative sentiment was generated in reaction to earnings news from home improvement retailer Home Depot. Traders were also reacting to a jump in U.S. treasury yields, with the yield on the benchmark ten-year note surging up to its highest levels since 2011.

The Dow slumped 193.00 points or 0.8 percent to 24,706.41, the Nasdaq fell 59.69 points or 0.8 percent to 7,351.63 and the S&P 500 slid 18.68 points or 0.7 percent to 2,711.45.

Meanwhile, the major European turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both rose by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures rose Tuesday, even as U.S. stocks and other commodities melted down. WTI oil for June ended up $0.35 or 0.5 percent at $71.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by P2PNews Staff Writer

editorial@p2pnews.com

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