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Asian Markets Trade Higher On Positive Cues From Europe

Asian stock markets are mostly trading notably higher on Tuesday, with investors tracking a positive close in the European markets overnight.

Shares from mining and utilities sections are trading firm in the Australian market, where the mood is slightly cautious ahead of the central bank's rate decision. Consumer staples and healthcare stocks are trading weak, while financial, energy and industrial stocks are mixed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which advanced to 5,207.7, is currently trading at 5,199.8, up 11.5 points or 0.2 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 13.4 points or 0.3 percent at 5,191.4, off the day's high of 5,198.

Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are up 0.5 to 0.7 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down marginally. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is down 0.4 percent and Bank of Queensland is up with a gain of 0.5 percent.

Among top miners, Rio Tinto (RIO) and BHP Billiton (BHP) are up 2 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.

Atlas Iron, Lynas Corp., Arrium and Fortescue Metals are trading higher by 4 to 5 percent. Bluescope Steel, Duet Group, UGL and Oz Minerals are up 3 to 3.6 percent.

Orica is trading nearly 3 percent up. Leighton Holdings, Downer EDI, Iluka Resources, Alumina (AWC), Boral, Goodman Group, Monadelphous Group, Aurora Oil & Gas and Investa Office Fund are trading higher by 2 to 2.8 percent.

Ansell and Ramsay Healthcare are trading weak, losing 2.2 percent and 1.8 percent, respectively.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday that retail sales in Australia added a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in July compared to the previous month, standing at A$21.824 billion. That missed expectations for an increase of 0.4 percent following the flat reading in June and a 0.2 percent increase in May.

According to another report from the bureau, Australia saw a current account deficit of A$9.35 billion in the second quarter of 2013, down 7 percent on quarter. The headline figure missed forecasts for a shortfall of A$8.5 billion after posting a downwardly revised deficit of A$8.74 billion in the first quarter (originally reported as a deficit of A$8.5 billion).

The balance on goods and services was a seasonally adjusted deficit of A$18 million, down from a A$122 million surplus in the previous three months.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened weak against the U.S. dollar. However, it recovered subsequently and was trading at 0.8998 around noon, up from Monday's close of 0.8984.

The Japanese stock market rose sharply with investors going on a buying spree, buoyed by the overnight strong close in European markets and a weaker yen.

Automobile, banking, machinery, steel, non-ferrous metals, real estate and pharmaceuticals stocks were among the most impressive gainers.

With the mood remaining extremely upbeat, only five stocks out of the 225 stock-strong Nikkei index were down in negative territory.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which opened more than 175 points up at 13,748.7, was up 344.7 points or 2.5 percent at 13,917.6 when the morning session ended.

Among automobile stocks, Mitsubishi Motors gained over 7.5 percent, Suzuki Motor, Mazda Motor, Hino Motors, Toyota Motor (TM) and Nissan Motor moved up by 3 to 4 percent, and Honda Motor (HMC) gained about 2 percent.

In the banking space, Aozora Bank, Bank of Yokohama, Chiba Bank, Mizuho Financial, SMFG and Shinsei Bank rose 1.5 to 4 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (MTU) gained almost 5 percent.

Kansai Electric Power surged up 7 percent on hopes the nuclear reactor will start functioning again following an announcement from a panel of seismologists and geologists that an earthquake fault-line under the company's Ohi plant may not be active.

Citizen Holdings, Sumco Corp., Japan Steel Works, Daiwa Securities Group, Pioneer Corp., Showa Denko KK, Nomura Holdings, Casio Computer, Chubu Electric Power and Nissan Chemical Industries gained 4 to 6 percent.

Fuji Heavy Industries, Komatsu, Daiichi Sankyo, Mitsui OSK Lines, Fast Retailing, Panasonic Corp. (PC), Hitachi Construction Machinery, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Advantest Corp. (ATE), Tobu Railway, Nippon Express and Takashimaya also posted strong gains.

In economic news, the monetary base in Japan spiked 42.0 percent on year in August to 172,443 trillion yen, the Bank of Japan said on Tuesday. That follows the 38.0 percent surge in July.

Banknotes in circulation were up 3.3 percent on year after rising 3.1 percent in the previous month. Coins in circulation added an annual 1.0 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

Current account balances surged 133.8 percent on year, including a 127.6 percent spike in reserve balances. The adjusted monetary base jumped 40.3 percent on year to 173.732 trillion yen.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 99 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 99.44 to the U.S. dollar.

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

The U.S. markets were closed on Monday for Labor Day holiday.

Major European markets ended sharply higher. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index gained nearly 1.5 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index both moved up by over 1.7 percent.

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