Asian markets ended mostly higher on Tuesday despite caution ahead of monetary policy meetings by the European Central Bank and the U.S. Federal Reserve. The Fed begins its two-day interest rate policy meeting today, while the European Central Bank and Bank of England central bank meetings conclude on Thursday. Most people believe that the ECB is prepared to buy Spanish and Italian bonds despite criticism from German politicians and ruling coalition members.
Taiwan's economy unexpectedly contracted 0.2 percent in the second quarter amid a faltering global recovery, data from the Directorate General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics revealed, highlighting the headwinds facing the global economy.
Investors also await a slew of U.S. economic reports this week for further directional cues. Key data on consumer spending, personal income, consumer confidence and the S&P/Case-Shiller home prices index are due to be released later in the global day, while a report from Automatic Data Processing, Inc. on private-sector employment and the results of a manufacturing survey are due for release on Wednesday.
Data on weekly jobless claims, factory orders and retail sales are the other important U.S. economic reports due to be released on Thursday before Friday's all-important jobs report.
Tokyo stocks rose for the fourth straight trading session, as gains in tech-shares despite the yen's relative strength helped the broader market reverse its early loss. The Nikkei average ended about 0.7 percent higher, while the broader Topix index gained 0.6 percent.
Panasonic jumped 4.6 percent on a Nikkei report that it has returned to the black in the April-June quarter. After the market close, the company reported first-quarter net income attributable to the company of 12.8 billion yen compared to the loss of 30.4 billion yen last year. Sony finished up 2.53 percent and Sharp soared 5.9 percent. Canon rallied 5.8 percent after announcing a share buyback, Advantest climbed 7.3 percent and Honda Motor gained 2.1 percent.
Suzuki Motor and Toyota Motor rose about 2 percent each ahead of their earnings results this week, while power companies Tohoku Electric and Hokuriku Electric soared 7-14 percent on bargain hunting after recent sell-offs. Chubu Electric, however, slid 5.9 percent on disappointing June-quarter results.
China's Shanghai Composite index slid 0.3 percent to 2,104, its lowest level in over three years, due to apprehensions over first-half earnings results and a muted domestic growth outlook. Financials bucked the downward trend, helping limit the downside in the broader market to some extent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index rose 1.1 percent on expectations of policy easing ahead of central bank meetings.
Australian shares climbed to a fresh 10-week high despite a flattish finish on Wall Street overnight. Both the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 and the broader All Ordinaries index rose about half a percent each. Resource stocks rose as stimulus hopes outweighed another fall in Shanghai spot iron ore prices and weak Chinese stocks. BHP Billiton and smaller rival Fortescue gained about a percent each, while Rio Tinto climbed 1.7 percent.
Banks also provided support for the market, with ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB rising between 0.6 percent and 1.5 percent, while Westpac eased 0.3 percent. In the oil& gas sector, Origin Energy gained 2.1 percent after reporting a 3 percent rise in full-year revenue.
Seoul shares rallied, with the benchmark Kospi average climbing 2.1 percent to a five-week high, as traders covered their short positions ahead of Fed and ECB meetings. Overseas investors extended their buying spree for a third straight session, lapping up shares worth a net 611 billion won on a net basis on Monday, marking the largest single-day purchase in about six months, data showed.
Heavyweight Samsung Electronics led the gainers among tech shares, rising 2.7 percent to a fresh two-and-a-half month high, while shares of beaten down STX Group affiliates such as STX Corp and STX Offshore & Shipbuilding soared 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
New Zealand shares rose for a fourth consecutive session, lifting the benchmark NZX-50 index up 0.7 percent to a more than 2-month high, as investors awaited the outcome of monetary policy meetings by the ECB and the Federal Reserve. Improved kiwi business confidence and Australian building consent data also helped boost investor sentiment to some extent.
Heavyweights Telecom and Fletcher Building rose about 2 percent each, online auction site Trade Me gained 1.4 percent, infrastructure investment firm Infratil added 1.7 percent and outdoor clothing & equipment company Kathmandu Holdings soared 5.3 percent on heavy trading volume, while rural services firm PGG Wrightson retreated 3.1 percent.
Elsewhere, India's benchmark Sensex was last trading up 0.2 percent after the Reserve Bank of India kept key policy rates steady, but cut the statutory liquidity ratio to 23 percent from 24 percent earlier.
Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index was up 1.1 percent, Singapore's Straits Times edged up marginally and the Taiwan Weighted average rallied 1.6 percent, while Malaysia's KLSE Composite ended little changed with a negative bias.
On Wall Street, stocks ended a choppy session modestly lower overnight, as traders awaited the outcome from central bank meetings this week. The Dow ended down less than 0.1 percent and the S&P500 dipped less than a point, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq slid 0.4 percent.
by RTT Staff Writer
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