Asian stock markets are mostly trading higher on Tuesday on hopes of more stimulus measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve following weak U.S. retail sales data and lower growth outlook for the global economy by the International Monetary Fund on Monday.
Investors are awaiting the U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's semi-annual testimony later in the day for any hints of new stimulus to help the U.S. economy.
The International Monetary Fund or IMF on Monday slashed its 2013 growth forecast for the global economy. In an update to its twice-yearly World Economic Outlook, the lender cut the world growth forecast for next year to 3.9 percent from 4.1 percent predicted in April.
The Australian stock market is trading marginally higher on Tuesday despite negative cues overnight from Wall Street. Banks and energy stocks are trading higher, while mining stocks are trading mixed.
In late morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 34.60 points or 0.84 percent to 4139.70 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is up 31.40 points or 0.76 percent to 4,174.60.
In the mining sector, BHP Billiton is down 0.10 percent, while Rio Tinto is gaining 0.81 percent and Newcrest Mining is up 2.16 percent.
Fortescue Metals is adding 1.3 percent after it reported record production in the June quarter. In addition, the company lifted its full-year sales forecast by 40 percent to 55.8 million tonnes for fiscal year 2012.
Banks are trading higher following better-than-expected earnings announced by U.S. bank Citigroup overnight. National Bank is up 0.85 percent, Commonwealth Bank is advancing 1.74 percent, Westpac is adding 1.38 percent and ANZ Bank is gaining 1.78 percent.
In the energy space, Woodside is advancing 1.41 percent, Oil Search is gaining 2.00 percent and Origin Energy is up 0.21 percent.
Media giant News Corp. has won an A$2 billion dispute with the Australian Taxation Office or ATO involving currency exchange losses beginning in 1989. The company won the case after the Federal Court found that the ATO's assessments had been excessive. News Corp shares are trading higher by 0.05 percent.
On the economic front, the Australia Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday that the total number of new motor vehicle sales in Australia was down a seasonally adjusted 0.6 percent on month in June, standing at 91,375. On a yearly basis, new motor vehicle sales jumped 18.4 percent - slowing from the 22.4 percent annual surge in May.
Meanwhile, minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's meeting on July 3 released on Tuesday showed that members of the bank's monetary policy board felt that there was no need to change its key interest rate.
The board members added that the Australian economy was continuing to gather momentum for the past year, although there remained significant downside risk from the European Crisis.
At the July 3 meeting, the RBA held the benchmark cash rate steady at 3.5 percent, as widely expected. That followed a 50 basis point reduction in May and a quarter-point cut in June.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar was trading higher against the U.S. dollar as markets speculated on the possibility of monetary stimulus from China and the U.S. In early-morning trades, the Australian dollar was trading at US$1.0248, up from US$1.0219 on Monday.
The Japanese market opened lower on Tuesday, tracking the negative lead overnight from Wall street and a stronger yen. However, the market pared losses and climbed into positive territory.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index ended the morning session higher at 8,774.52, up 50.40 points or 0.58 percent. The Japanese market was closed Monday for a national holiday.
Among the blue-chip exporters, Canon is down 2.49 percent. Sony is losing 2.20 percent, Sharp Corp. is declining 4.19 percent and Hitachi Ltd. is trading lower by 0.43 percent.
Automaker stocks too are trading in negative territory. Toyota Motor Corp. is down 0.17 percent, Suzuki Motor Corp. is losing 1.11 percent and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. is trading lower by 0.60 percent.
Shares of JX Holdings are down 5.96 percent. The company's subsidiary JX Nippon Oil and Energy Corp. said Friday it had violated the high pressure gas safety act and admitted that its Mizushima Refinery Plant B in Okayama Prefecture falsified inspection results.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar was trading in the upper 78-yen range on Tuesday. In late morning trades, the dollar was trading in a range of 78.90-78.94 yen, down 0.38 yen from Friday's close of 79.28-79.30 yen in Tokyo.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, and Indonesia are currently trading higher, while Taiwan and New Zealand are trading lower.
On Wall Street, stocks saw moderate weakness during trading on Monday, giving back some ground after ending last Friday's trading sharply higher. The pullback came on the heels of the release of a disappointing report on U.S. retail sales.
The Dow fell 49.88 points or 0.4 percent to 12,727.21, the Nasdaq slid 11.53 points or 0.4 percent to 2,896.94 and the S&P 500 edged down 3.14 points or 0.2 percent to 1,353.64.
The major European markets ended the day mixed, closing roughly flat. The German DAX Index crept up by 0.1 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index closed just below the unchanged line.
by RTT Staff Writer
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