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Asian Markets Mostly Higher Amid Cautious Trades

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street, as markets staged a recovery attempt after recent steep losses. Nevertheless, lingering worries about U.S.-China trade tensions weighed on investor sentiment.

U.S. President Donald Trump has continued to express confidence the Chinese will yield to U.S. demands, repeatedly arguing that the U.S. is in a stronger position than China in the negotiations.

The Australian market is modestly higher following the overnight gains on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 12.80 points or 0.21 percent to 6,252.70, after touching a high of 6,253.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 13.10 points or 0.21 percent to 6,340.30. Australian shares tumbled to a one-month low on Tuesday.

Tech stocks are among the notable gainers. Afterpay Touch is adding almost 2 percent, WiseTech Global is higher by more than 2 percent and Altium is rising more than 5 percent.

Oil stocks are also higher after crude oil prices advanced more than 1 percent overnight. Oil Search and Santos are rising more than 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is up almost 1 percent.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are advancing more than 1 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is adding 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks - ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac - are down in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent.

Gold miners are also lower after gold prices declined overnight. Evolution Mining is declining 0.6 percent and Newcrest Mining is down 0.2 percent.

A.P. Eagers said it expects its operating profit before tax for the first half of fiscal 2019 to be up to 10 percent below last year due to challenging trading conditions in the domestic automotive retail sector. The auto retailer's shares are down 0.6 percent.

DuluxGroup said it will pay a special dividend despite a 14 percent decline in first-half net profit after tax and also affirmed its profit outlook for the full year. The paint and homeware manufacturer's shares are edging up 0.1 percent.

On the economic front, Australia will provide first-quarter figures for wage prices and May numbers for the consumer confidence index from Westpac today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6928, down from $0.6976 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is flat as lingering fears about rising U.S.-China trade tensions weighed on investor sentiment and offset the positive cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is edging up 5.13 points or 0.02 percent to 21,072.36, after touching a low of 20,968.08 in early trades. Japanese shares hit a three-month low on Tuesday.

The major exporters are higher. Sony is advancing almost 2 percent, while Canon and Panasonic are adding almost 1 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is up 0.2 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is rising more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding almost 1 percent. In the auto space, Toyota is edging lower by 0.1 percent and Honda is losing 1 percent.

Among the major banks, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.5 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining almost 1 percent while Japan Petroleum is rising more than 1 percent after crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Marui Group is rising more than 8 percent, Mitsubishi Estate is higher by almost 8 percent and Furukawa Electric is gaining more than 7 percent.

On the flip side, Takeda Pharmaceutical is losing 7 percent, Nissan Motor is lower by more than 6 percent and Taiheiyo Cement is declining more than 5 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will see April numbers for money stock and machine tool orders today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 109 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai is advancing almost 1 percent, while South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher. Singapore is modestly lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday as traders picked up stocks at reduced levels following the steep losses seen on Monday. The markets also benefited from continued optimism the U.S. and China will eventually reach a trade deal despite the retaliatory tariffs announced by China.

The Dow advanced 207.06 points or 0.8 percent to 25,532.05, the Nasdaq jumped 87.47 points or 1.1 percent to 7,734.49 and the S&P 500 climbed 22.54 points or 0.8 percent to 2,834.41.

The major European markets rebounded on Tuesday following recent weakness. While the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 1.5 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1.1 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices rose Tuesday amid supply concerns and slightly easing worries about energy demand after the U.S. and China struck a conciliatory tone on trade talks. WTI crude oil for June delivery climbed $0.74 or 1.2 percent to $61.78 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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