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Asian Markets Mostly Higher Ahead Of U.S. Midterm Elections


Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Tuesday following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street. Nevertheless, investors are cautious as they look ahead to the U.S. midterm elections to be held later in the day, which will decide control of both the House and Senate.

Democrats are seen as having a much better chance to claim a majority in the House than in the Senate, but controlling the lower chamber would still allow Democrats to hinder U.S. President Donald Trump's agenda.

The Australian market is advancing despite the mixed cues from Wall Street, with stocks gaining across the board.

Investors are looking ahead to the Reserve Bank of Australia's monetary policy decision due later in the day. The RBA is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at a record low of 1.50 percent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 35.50 points or 0.61percent to 5,853.60, off a high of 5,861.70. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 33.00 points or 0.56 percent to 5,937.80. Australian shares finished lower on Monday to snap a six-day winning streak.

The major miners are mostly higher after iron ore prices rose overnight. Rio Tinto is rising more than 1 percent and BHP is advancing almost 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is down 0.5 percent.

Gold miners are also advancing despite gold prices edging lower. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is adding 0.7 percent.

Oil stocks are also higher as crude oil prices were almost flat overnight. Santos and Woodside Petroleum are advancing almost 2 percent each, while Oil Search is adding more than 1 percent.

In the banking space, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac are up in a range of 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent.

Commonwealth Bank, Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, and Link Administration Holdings have agreed to buy Property Exchange Australia or PEXA in a deal that values the online property settlements company at about A$1.6 billion. Shares of Link Administration are advancing almost 2 percent.

ResMed has agreed to acquire U.S.-based healthcare software company MatrixCare for $750 million to expand its software-as-a-service portfolio. However, shares of the sleep apnea device specialist are losing more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7209, up from $0.7193 on Monday.

The Japanese market is rising following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street and on a slightly weaker yen. Investors are focusing on the U.S. midterm elections set for later in the day.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is advancing 213.82 points or 0.98 percent to 22,112.81, after rising to a high of 22,132.75 earlier. Japanese shares fell sharply in thin trading on Monday.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Sony is advancing 1 percent, Canon is adding 0.4 percent and Panasonic is rising 0.2 percent while Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 1 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is gaining almost 4 percent, while Tokyo Electron is declining more than 1 percent.

Conglomerate SoftBank's shares are down 0.4 percent despite reporting a better-than-expected second-quarter profit as the company's CEO Masayoshi Son indicated it will continue to do business with Saudi Arabia in spite of government critic Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

Takeda Pharmaceutical CEO Christophe Weber has pushed back against dissident shareholders seeking to stop the company's acquisition of Shire plc, saying he will not release minutes of boardroom discussions. Shares of Takeda are advancing more than 1 percent.

Among auto makers, Honda is rising almost 2 percent and Toyota is adding 1 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is higher by 1 percent.

In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is higher by almost 4 percent and Inpex is gaining almost 2 percent after crude oil prices were almost flat overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma is rising almost 6 percent, while NEC Corp., Konami holdings and Credit Saison are all higher by more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Pioneer Corp. is losing almost 4 percent and Yamato Holdings is declining almost 3 percent. Screen Holdings, Shimizu Corp, Mitsui E&S Holdings and Minebea Mitsumi are all lower by more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that the average of household spending in Japan was down 1.6 percent on year in September, coming in at 271,273 yen. That was well shy of expectations for an increase of 1.5 percent and down sharply from the 2.8 percent gain in August.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 113 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, New Zealand and Indonesia are also higher, while Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all lower. The markets in Malaysia and Singapore are closed on Tuesday for Deepavali.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Monday as Apple extended the sell-off seen in the previous session after Japan's Nikkei newspaper reported that demand for the company's iPhone XR appears to be disappointing. Online retail giant Amazon also came under pressure after President Donald Trump told Axios his administration is looking into antitrust violations by the company.

Overall trading was somewhat subdued, however, with traders reluctant to make significant moves ahead of Tuesday's highly anticipated midterm elections, which will decide control of both the House and Senate.

The Nasdaq climbed off its worst levels but still closed down 28.14 points or 0.4 percent at 7,328.85. The Dow advanced 190.87 points or 0.8 percent to 25,461.70 and the S&P 500 climbed 15.25 points or 0.6 percent to 2,738.31.

The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index closed just below the unchanged and the German DAX Index edged down by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Monday as new U.S. sanctions against Iran's oil and financial sectors went into effect. WTI crude for December dipped $0.04, or less than 0.1 percent to close at $63.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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