Asian markets are exhibiting a mixed trend with investors mostly treading cautiously despite a positive lead from Wall Street. Activity is mostly stock specific with quarterly earnings reports and regional economic data providing some direction.
After a weak start and a subsequent rebound into positive territory, the Australian market faltered and is currently trading flat.
Consumer staples, energy, healthcare, industrial and information technology stocks are edging higher, while financial, mining and property trusts stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which advanced to 4,374.7 after an early fall to 4,344.2, is currently at 4,371.1, up 1 point from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 4.3 points at 4,398.1.
ANZ Bank (ANZ) is up 0.6 percent. ANZ has posted a profit of A$4.4 billion for the nine months to June, an increase of 10 percent from the prior corresponding period.
National Australia Bank and Westpac are trading higher by 1.3 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia, trading ex-dividend, is down 3 percent.
Bank of Queensland is down marginally, while Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is trading 0.2 percent down following a sharp 43 percent drop in full-year profits.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP, BBL) is up 0.6 percent, Rio Tinto (RIO, RIO.L) is trading lower by 1 percent, Newcrest Mining is down marginally and Fortescue Metals is losing nearly a percent.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy are up 0.8 to 1.5 percent, while Caltex Australia and Oil Search are trading weak.
Lynas Corp. is down more than 6.5 percent. Telstra Corp. is trading lower by about 4.5 percent, while Whitehaven Coal and Arrium are down by around 3.5 percent.
UGL, Iluka Resources, JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman Holdings are also trading notably lower.
Cochlear, Alumina, Boart Longyear, Monadelphous Group, ResMed Inc, Metcash, Spark Infrastructure and Sims Metal Management are all up in positive territory, gaining 1.7 to 3.5 percent.
On the economic front, imports of goods fell 2 percent to A$21.354 billion in July (seasonally adjusted), according to the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Unadjusted, imports of goods rose 3 percent to A$20.527 billion.
Imports of intermediate and other merchandise goods rose one percent, or A$108 million (unadjusted), mainly influenced by the fuels and lubricant component, while consumption goods rose by A$13 million.
The Japanese market opened notably higher with investors tracking a positive lead from Wall Street and indulging in some brisk buying at several blue chip counters. The yen's weakness against the U.S. dollar too contributed to the firm start.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which surged to 9,222.9, was up 55.5 points or 0.6 percent at 9,218 when the morning session ended.
Steel, non-ferrous metals, insurance, marine transport, shipbuilding and precision instruments stocks were mostly trading higher at the break. Oil, foods, retail, chemicals and pharmaceuticals stocks traded mixed.
Nippon Paper Group, Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, Mitsui Chemicals, Mitsubishi Chemicals, Oji Paper, Alps Electric Power, Toho Zinc and Olympus Corp gained 2.5 to 4 percent.
Advantest Corp (ATE), Nippon Electric Glass, Sumco Corp, Trend Micro, Nippon Sheet Glass, Casio Computer, Olympus Corp, Panasonic Corp, Sony Corp (SNE), Daiichi Sankyo and JFE Holdings also posted strong gains.
Meanwhile, Sharp Corp drifted down by over 3.5 percent. Amada Co., Mitsubishi Paper Mills, Mitsubishi Corp, NGK Insulators, Inpex Corp, Shinsei Bank, JX Holdings, Komatsu and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust also traded weak.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-79 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.60 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai and Hong Kong are trading notably lower. South Korea and Taiwan are also trading weak, while New Zealand is up with notable gains. Markets in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are closed for Eid-ul-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
On Wall Street, stocks posted modest gains after a choppy session on Friday. Better-than-expected economic news aided sentiment to an extent and triggered some buying interest.
The Dow ended up 25.1 points or 0.2 percent at 13,275.2, the Nasdaq rose 14.2 points or 0.5 percent to 3,076.6 and the S&P 500 closed up 2.7 points or 0.2 percent at 1,418.2.
Major European markets too ended higher on Friday. While the Germany's DAX 100 index climbed 0.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 index moved up by 0.3 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended higher on Friday after early weakness. Light sweet crude oil futures for September delivery gained $0.41 or 0.4 percent to close at $96.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
by RTT Staff Writer
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