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Asian Markets In Cautious Mood

Asian stock markets are exhibiting a mixed trend on Monday with investors mostly treading cautiously amid lingering concerns about the global economy. Most of the markets in the region got off to a firm start, but gave up a significant portion of their gains subsequently due to profit taking.

After a fairly smart upmove, the Australian market gave up most of its gains as investors chose to tread cautiously at higher levels and is currently trading flat amid stock-specific activity.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which rose to 4,289.8 in early trades, is currently trading at 4,275, up just 4.6 points or 0.1 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 4.8 points or 0.1 percent at 4,365.5, around 15 points off the day's high of 4,380.7.

Energy, industrial and financial stocks are finding some support, while mining, healthcare and consumer discretionary stocks are mostly trading off their highs.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westac are up 0.5 to 0.7 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is gaining nearly a percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down 0.5 percent.

Bank of Queensland announced that it is likely to post a loss of A$91 million for the six months to the end of February. The bank said weak economic conditions and natural disasters had impacted on the value of its loans. Shares of the company are currently under a trading halt.

Among miners, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are trading modestly lower. Fortescue Metals is up marginally, while Newcrest Mining is trading nearly 2 percent higher.

In the energy sector, Oil Search, Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are up 0.8 to 1.2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are trading flat.

Leighton Holdings is trading nearly 3 percent higher. Qantas Airways is up 2.5 percent on reports the airliner has teamed up with China Eastern Airlines to create Jetstar Hong Kong in 2013.

Perseus Mining is gaining 2.2 percent. Spark Infrastructure, Toll Holdings, Sydney Airport and Graincorp are trading higher by 1.5 to 1.8 percent.

Myer Holdings is down nearly 5 percent. QBE Insurance Group is down 2.8 percent, while Sims Metal Management and Onesteel are trading lower by around 2 percent.

David Jones, Beach Energy, Crown, Dexus Property Group, Fairfax Media, QR National, Stockland, Lynas Corporation and Primary Healthcare are also trading notably lower.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is up against the U.S. dollar after trading in a tight range early on in the session. The Aussie is currently trading at US$1.0465, up more than 0.7 percent from Friday's close of US$1.0387.

The Japanese market is trading higher with investors indulging in some selective buying, tracking a positive lead from Wall Street and the yen's weakness against the U.S. dollar as well as the euro.

Mining, real estate, electric power and rubber stocks are mostly trading higher. Manufacturing, pulp & paper, construction, automobile, financial and pharmaceuticals stocks are trading mixed.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 10,050, is currently up 18.8 points or 0.2 percent at 10,030.3.

Sumco Corp. is gaining nearly 4 percent. Nisshinbo Holdings Inc. shares are up 3 percent on reports of a likely five-fold jump in the company's operating profits.

Nissan Motor, JFE Holdings, Teijin, Hitachi, Sumitomo Chemical and Alps Electric are trading higher by 2 to 2.8 percent.

Oki Electric Corp, Yokogawa Electric Corp, Advantest, TDK Corp, Panasonic Corp, Nippon Sheet Glass, Nippon Yusen, Komatsu, Ricoh, Mitsubishi Estate, Suzuki Motor, Mitsubishi Motors, Sumitomo Electric Industries and Nippon Suisan are up 1 to 2 percent.

Meanwhile, Mitsumi Electric, Nomura Holdings, MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Fujitsu, Unitika, Showa Shell, Asahi Glass, Sony Financial Holdings, Yahoo Japan, Nisshin Steel and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings Inc are trading weak, losing 1.5 to 4 percent.

Mazda Motor, Bank of Yokohama, NEC Corp, Mizuho Financial, Shizuoka Bank and SMFG are also trading notably lower.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-82 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 82.75 to the U.S. dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia and New Zealand are trading notably higher and Malaysia is up marginally. South Korea and Taiwan are down with notable losses, while Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore are down marginally. Markets across the region ended lower on Friday.

On Wall Street, the major averages closed modestly higher on Friday. Stocks drifted lower early on in the session on the back of disappointing new home sales data, but recovered gradually to end the day with modest gains.

While the Dow gained 35 points to close at 13,081, the Nasdaq advanced 5 points to 3,068 and the S&P 500 edged up 4 points to 1,397.

Major European markets ended higher on Friday. Tthe German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index both ended up 0.2 percent, while the French CAC 40 index edged up by 0.1 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures ended higher on Friday amid reports of a likely fall in Iranian crude exports. Light, sweet crude for May delivery ended up $1.52 at $106.87 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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