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Market Update

Asia-Pacific Stocks Range-Bound; Toyota Slips

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region opened quiet Wednesday amid a lack of global cues and economic and corporate news flow.

At 8:00 a.m. (IST), Japan's Nikkei index was trading 0.1% lower, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng and China's Shanghai Composite were up 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. India's Sensex was yet to open at the time of writing, but analysts expected a flat opening. Across the region, the Australian benchmark index, ASX, was trading 0.2% lower.

Earlier, stocks on Wall Street closed almost flat, too, on a day marking the first anniversary of the low point of the 2008-09 bear market. The S&P 500 index bottomed out at 666 on March 9, 2009, and rebounded about 69% to 1,140 in 12 months.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index, a collective measure of key shares in the region, was trading little changed.

The range-bound movement also continued in currencies and commodities, with the U.S. Dollar Index marginally up while oil and gold futures traded down a bit.

Shares in Toyota suffered on the Nikkei, down 1.3%, after news that a Prius, its hybrid car, spiraled out of control due to an acceleration problem in the U.S.

Data released showed machinery orders in Japan fell a smaller-than-expected 3.7%. Exporter shares were up, helped by a halt in the yen's advance against the U.S. dollar.

Sony Corp rose 1%, Canon added 0.6%, while Kyocera advanced 1%.

In Australia, mining stocks fell as investors chose to book profits; BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 0.9% and 1%, respectively. Mining stocks on the ASX have outperformed in March riding on a price rise in commodities.

Banking stocks in the country rose with National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Westpac Banking Corp gaining between 0.3% and 1.5%.