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Asian Markets Mostly Higher


Asian stock markets are mostly higher, with some of the markets recovering after a weak start following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street amid uncertainty ahead of the next round of trade talks between the U.S. and China this week. News that U.S. congressional negotiators have reached an agreement in principle to fund the government and avoid another shutdown ahead of a Friday midnight deadline boosted sentiment.

The Australian market recovered after a weak start and is now modestly higher, reflecting gains in banking and oil stocks. Investors digested mixed corporate earnings results.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 29.50 points or 0.49 percent to 6,090.30, after rising to a high of 6,093.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 26.50 points or 0.43 percent to 6,155.10. Australian stocks closed modestly lower on Monday.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Westpac and National Australia Bank are advancing in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.2 percent.

Macquarie Group reported a 15 percent increase in fiscal 2018 profit and said it expects fiscal 2019 profit to rise another 15 percent to nearly A$3 billion. The wealth management and financial services group's shares are rising more than 3 percent.

Challenger Financial reported a 97 percent plunge in first-half profit on a double-digit decline in revenues and also lowered its outlook for full-year normalised profit. However, the retirement fund manager's shares are adding 0.5 percent.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.1 percent and Rio Tinto is declining 0.2 percent, while BHP Group is adding 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are notably higher even as gold prices declined overnight. Newcrest Mining is rising more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is advancing almost 2 percent.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is up 0.3 percent, Oil Search is adding 0.5 percent and Santos is advancing more than 1 percent despite weaker crude oil prices.

Transurban reported a nearly 62 percent fall in first-half profit following its costly acquisition of Sydney's WestConnex motorway scheme, while revenue rose almost 15 percent. The toll road operator's shares are declining more than 2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7063, compared to $0.7097 on Monday.

The Japanese market, which resumed trading after a holiday on Monday, is notably higher. Shares of exporters are advancing on a weaker yen.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is advancing 348.46 points or 1.71 percent to 20,681.63, after touching a high of 20,720.50 earlier. The Japanese market was closed on Monday for the National Foundation Day.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a stronger yen. Mitsubishi Electric is gaining almost 3 percent, Panasonic is advancing more than 2 percent, and Canon is up almost 1 percent, while Sony is declining more than 1 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is gaining almost 4 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by more than 2 percent. Among the major automakers, Toyota is advancing 1 percent and Honda is rising more than 1 percent.

SoftBank's Vision Fund has invested $940 million in Nuro, a Silicon Valley startup working on self-driving delivery vehicles. Shares of SoftBank are adding 0.1 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is up more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding almost 2 percent. In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is higher by more than 1 percent and Inpex is adding almost 1 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Taiyo Yuden and Haseko Corp. are rising almost 17 percent each, while Tokai Carbon and Showa Denko are higher by almost 10 percent each.

On the flip side, Toho Zinc is losing more than 7 percent, JXTG Holdings is lower by almost 6 percent and Sumitomo Osaka Cement is declining more than 5 percent.

On the economic front, the Bank of Japan said that the M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.4 percent on year in January, coming in at 1,015.1 trillion yen. That was in line with expectations and unchanged from the previous month. The M3 money stock advanced an annual 2.1 percent to 1,348.4 trillion yen - again unchanged and matching forecasts.

Japan will also provide December results for its tertiary industry index and January figures for machine tool orders today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Monday in choppy trading amid uncertainty ahead of the next round of trade talks between the U.S. and China due to take place later this week. A lack of major U.S. economic data also kept traders on the sidelines, although reports on consumer and producer price inflation, import and export prices and industrial production are likely to attract attention in the coming days.

While the Dow dipped 53.22 points or 0.2 percent to 25,053.11, the Nasdaq edged up 9.71 points or 0.1 percent to 7,307.90 and the S&P 500 inched up 1.92 points or 0.1 percent to 2,709.80.

The major European markets all moved to the upside on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices recovered from early weakness on Monday, but still settled on a negative note as weak global growth outlook continued to raise concerns about energy demand. WTI crude for March ended down $0.31 or 0.6 percent at $52.41 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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