Despite opening on a somewhat shaky note, Asian stock markets gained in strength on Tuesday with investors picking up stocks, betting on hopes the central banks will come out with further stimulus to boost the sagging economies. Gains are just modest in some of the markets, but the overall mood is fairly positive, amid a slew of corporate news.
The Australian market, which started off on a flat note, is currently trading notably higher with investors indulging in some brisk buying at several front line counters amid a slew of corporate news and earnings reports.
Energy and industrial stocks are moving higher, while financial, mining, consumer discretionary, healthcare and property trusts stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 22.8 points or 0.5 percent at 4,387.1. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,414, up 22.1 points or 0.5 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank (ANZ: Quote) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are trading modestly higher and National Australia Bank is up 1.5 percent, while Westpac (WBK: Quote) is down marginally.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP: Quote,BBL: Quote) and Rio Tinto (RIO: Quote,RIO.L) are up 1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Monadelphous Group is gaining nearly 6 percent. Qantas Airways, Toll Holdings, Brambles, Cochlear, ASX, Spark Infrastructure and Alumina (AWC: Quote) are up 1.7 to 2.7 percent.
Oz Minerals is trading lower by over 4.5 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down with a loss of 2.6 percent. Duet Group, Amcor, Challenger, Wesfarmers, Atlas Iron and Regis Resources are trading lower by 1.5 to 2.5 percent.
Oil Search has maintained its full-year production target despite the impact of the shutdown of a loading facility in Papua New Guinea. The company posted a net profit of A$103.34 million for the six months to June 30, down six percent from A$114.5 million in the previous corresponding period. The stock is down by about 0.6 percent.
Woodside Petroleum shares are up 2.6 percent following the company confirming that it has agreed to Chevron's plan to sell its stake in the proposed Browse gas project to Royal Dutch Shell.
Mining and steel company Arrium reported a 75 percent slump in net profit to A$58 million for the year ended June 2012. The stock is currently trading more than 11 percent up.
Sonic Healthcare is down 1.6 percent. The company announced that it expects to increase its earnings by up to 10 percent after posting a record profit for the 2011-12 financial year. The company has lifted its net profit by 7.3 percent to A$316 million in the year to June 30, from A$294.5 million in 2010-11.
Mirvac Group shares are down by over 1 percent despite the company reporting a sharp surge in earnings. The company said it has more than doubled its full-year profit thanks to higher property values and the sale of its hotel management business. Mirvac made a net profit of A$416.1 million in the year to June 30, up from A$182.6 million in the previous year.
Meanwhile, APA Group has finally won over energy infrastructure investor and takeover target Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund. Hasting's responsible entity, Hastings Funds Management Ltd, has accepted APA's A$1.4 billion cash and scrip offer after its protracted takeover battle with Pipeline Partners Australia. APA Group shares are up nearly 2 percent.
According to the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's August 7 board meeting, a stabilizing Chinese economy and tentative signs of an improvement in the non-mining sectors of the local economy were behind the central bank's decision to keep the cash rate at 3.5 percent in August.
The minutes said that while economic signals from Europe and the U.S. continue to be weak, things were getting better for Australia's biggest trading partner.
"Economic developments in China, however were a little more positive, with tentative signs that growth was stabilising at a more sustainable pace," the minutes said.
After an early surge and a subsequent fall into negative territory due to profit taking, the Japanese market advanced to higher levels towards the end of the morning session with a section of investors picking up stocks at lower levels.
Real estate, financial, retail and communications stocks opened higher, but came off their highs subsequently. Electric power, pulp & paper, foods, marine transport, steel, non-ferrous metals and chemicals stocks recovered a bit after seeing some brisk selling early on in the session.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which declined to around 9,146 after edging up to 9,186.4 in early trades, was up 12.1 points or 0.1 percent at 9,183.3 when the morning session ended.
Nippon Light Metal lost more than 4 percent before paring some losses. NGK Insulators, Hitachi Construction Machinery, Pioneer Corp, Komatsu, TDK Corp and Mitsumi Electric lost 2 to 4 percent.
Sharp Corp shares drifted lower following a rating downgrade.
Tokyo Electric Power, Sumitomo Metal Mining, Japan Steel Works, Nippon Steel Corp, Sumitomo Metal Industries, Sony Corp (SNE: Quote), Canon Inc. (CAJ: Quote), Softbank, Showa Denko KK, Advantest Corp (ATE: Quote), Mitsui Mining and Mitsubishi Motors also declined on selling pressure.
Fujitsu moved up by over 3 percent up. Konami Corp and Nomura Holdings gained 2.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.
Daiwa Securities Group, Teijin, Ebara Corp, Softbank Corp, Tokyu Land, Yokohama Rubber, Resona Holdings, Inpex Corp, Mazda Motor Corp, Seven & I Holdings, Toyota Motor (TM: Quote), Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Nissan Motor and Central Japan Railway also posted notable gains.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded at the lower 79 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 79.40 to the dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably higher. Shanghai is up with modest gains, while Hong Kong and Singapore are up marginally. Markets in Indonesia and Malaysia are closed for Eid-ul-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
On Wall Street, stocks edged up a bit and closed flat on Monday after moving moderately lower in early trading. A relatively light day on both the corporate and economic news fronts contributed to the lackluster performance.
The major averages showed moves of less than a tenth of a percent. The Dow dipped 3.6 points to 13,271.6, the Nasdaq edged down 0.4 points to 3,076.2 and the S&P 500 ended almost unchanged at 1,418.1.
Major European markets moved modestly lower on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index lost 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index ended lower by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil ended a tad lower on Monday, snapping a four-day winning streak, after U.S. plans to release emergency oil reserves to control rising gasoline prices faced resistance from the International Energy Agency.
Crude for September delivery ended down $0.04 at $95.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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