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Asian Markets Mostly Lower


Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday, while the Australian and Japanese markets are extending gains following the record closing highs overnight on Wall Street amid hopes of tax reform by the end of the year.

The Australian market is extending its winning streak to a third day following the positive cues from Wall Street and higher commodity prices. Banks and mining stocks are among the leading gainers.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 27.00 points or 0.47 percent to 5,773.40, off a high of 5,775.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 25.40 points or 0.44 percent to 5,831.80.

Among miners, BHP Billiton is advancing almost 2 percent, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is up almost 1 percent after iron ore prices rose overnight.

In the banking sector, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are higher in a range of 0.9 percent to 1.1 percent.

However, gold miners are mixed. Newcrest Mining is rising almost 1 percent after the company said it has resumed iron ore extraction at the second part of its NSW Cadia East mine, while Evolution Mining is down 0.5 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly weak despite crude oil prices edging higher overnight. Santos is adding more than 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is down 0.1 percent and Oil Search is declining 0.2 percent.

YPB Group will supply the Thailand government with security paper for the new Thai Pasport. However, the company's shares are losing almost 6 percent.

CIMIC Group's Leighton Asia unit has been awarded a A$470 million deep tunnel sewage system phase 2 contract by Singapore's national water agency PUB. Shares of CIMIC are rising almost 1 percent.

PharmAust has secured a core patent in Europe for the use of its lead drug monepantel as a cancer therapy with protection until 2033. The company's shares are advancing almost 2 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from Westpac Bank and the Melbourne Institute revealed that consumer confidence in Australia spiked in September. The index climbed 2.5 percent on month to a score of 97.9 and follows the 1.2 percent decline in August to a reading of 95.5.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly higher against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.8021, up from US$0.8037 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is advancing for a third straight day on a weaker yen and following the record closing highs on Wall Street.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 102.38 points or 0.52 percent to 19,879.00, off a high of 19,879.85 earlier.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is rising almost 3 percent, Canon is up almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is adding 0.4 percent. Meanwhile, Sony is losing 0.5 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is advancing almost 1 percent and Honda is rising more than 1 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are adding almost 2 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is rising more than 1 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is gaining almost 2 percent after crude oil prices edged overnight.

Among the best performers, Furukawa Electric is rising more than 3 percent, Konica Minolta is adding 3 percent and Tokuyama Corp. is up almost 3 percent. On the flip side, Toho Zinc is losing almost 2 percent and Oji Holdings is down more than 1 percent.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were flat on month in August. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.1 percent following the 0.3 percent gain in July.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand and South Korea are edging higher, while Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia are all lower.

On Wall Street, stocks rose for a second session on Tuesday, led by financials in hopes of tax reform by year's end. Tech stocks also strengthened amid Apple's product launches, including its much-awaited iPhone 8, iPhone 8S and flagship iPhone X.

The S&P 500 rose 8 points, or 0.3 percent to close at 2,496, a new record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 62 points, or 0.3 percent, to end at 22,119, to flirt with an all-time high, while the Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 22 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 6,454.

The majority of the European markets ended Tuesday's session in the green, adding to the gains from the previous session. The DAX of Germany climbed 0.40 percent and the CAC 40 of France rose 0.62 percent, while the FTSE 100 of the U.K. declined 0.17 percent.

Crude oil futures continued to rise Tuesday amid hopes that OPEC can re-balance oil markets. October WTI oil rose $0.16 or 0.3 percent to settle at $48.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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