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Asian Markets Mostly Trade Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly trading higher on Tuesday, with investors indulging in some selective buying amid optimism about the global economy.

The Australian stock market is trading notably higher, extending its winning streak to a ninth successive session, with investors picking up stocks from across several sectors.

Consumer discretionary, energy, financial, healthcare, industrial and property trusts stocks are mostly trading higher. Mining stocks are trading mixed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 54.8 points or 1.1 percent at 4,890. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 4,911, up 52.5 points or 1.1 percent from its previous close.

CSL, Caltex Australia, Tatts Group and ASX are trading higher by 3 to 4 percent. Sims Metal Management, Monadelphous Group, Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, Orica and WorleyParsons are up 2.5 to 2.8 percent.

Westpac (WBK), Mirvac Group, Beach Energy, Incitec Pivot and Brambles are also trading sharply higher.

Meanwhile, Perseus Mining, Atlas Iron, Regis Resources and Aurora Oil & Gas are down 2 to 3.5 percent.

Shares of insurance firms are trading lower due to the impact of cyclone Oswald in coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales. Suncorp Group is trading 2.3 percent down and QBE Insurance is down with a loss of 2.1 percent, while Insurance Australia Group is trading lower by 1.8 percent.

On the economic front, Australian business confidence rebounded in December following an interest rate cut and positive developments in the U.S. and China. According to a survey by National Australia Bank, business confidence rose 12 points in December to an index reading of plus 3.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar rebounded after a weak start, but is still trading lower against the U.S. dollar. Around noon, the Australian dollar was quoting at $1.0434 against the greenback, down from Friday's close of $1.0449.

The Japanese stock market opened lower on Tuesday, with investors taking some profits after recent gains. The yen's recovery against the U.S. dollar and a lack of fresh triggers too contributed to the weak start.

However, with investors indulging in some hectic buying at lower levels, the market rebounded into positive territory subsequently and is currently trading notably higher.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which spurted to around 10,915 after declining to 10,751 in early trades, was up 68.6 points or 0.6 percent at 10,892.9 when the morning session ended.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group shares gained more than 5 percent on reports the company will post a record profit. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU), Mizuho Financial (MFG) and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings moved up 3 to 4 percent. Shinsei Bank and Aozora Bank also rose sharply.

Tokuyama Corp., Nissan Motor, Kansai Electric Power, Sumco Corp., TDK Corp., Inpex Corp., Pacific Metals and Toshiba Corp. gained 3 to 4 percent.

KDDI Corp. climbed 3.5 percent following a surge in the company's operating profit in the April to December half-year period.

Mazda Motor, Fujikura, Mitsumi Electric, Asahi Glass, Nomura Holdings, Daiwa Securities Group, Showa Shell Sekiyu, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, JFE Holdings, Mitsui OSK Lines and JX Holdings were up 1.8 to 2.8 percent.

Meanwhile, Citizen Holdings, Dainippon Screen Manufacturing and Ricoh declined by 2 to 5 percent. Yahoo Japan, Credit Saison, Mitsubishi Motors, Konica Minolta Holdings, Sony Corp. (SNE) and Nisshinbo Holdings were among the other notable losers.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded at the mid 90-yen level in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 90.58 to the dollar.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia, South Korea and Taiwan are trading notably higher. Malaysia and New Zealand are up marginally, while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore are down marginally.

On Wall Street, stocks ended on a mixed note Monday with traders refraining from making any significant moves following the recent strength. While the Nasdaq moved up 4.6 points or 0.2 percent to 3,154.3, the Dow edged down by 14 points or 0.1 percent to 13,881.9 and the S&P 500 declined 2.8 points or 0.2 percent to 1,500.2.

Major European markets also closed mixed on Monday. The German DAX index closed down 0.3 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index and the French CAC 40 index edged up by 0.2 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

U.S. crude oil settled higher on Monday, with supply concerns and a strong dollar aiding the surge. Crude for March delivery ended up $0.56 or 0.6 percent at $96.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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