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Asian Markets Mostly Lower Ahead Of Signing Of U.S.-China Trade Deal

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Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Wednesday as investors await the signing of a phase one trade deal between the U.S. and China later today. However, investor sentiment was dampened after Bloomberg reported that despite the signing of the trade deal, tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods are likely to remain in place until after the U.S. presidential election in November.

The Australian market is rising, with investors shrugging off the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 20.40 points or 0.29 percent to 6,892.60, off a record high of 6,983.90 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 22.50 points or 0.32 percent to 7,100.50. Australian stocks hit record highs on Tuesday.

Gold miners are notably higher even as gold prices declined overnight. Evolution Mining is gaining more than 4 percent and Newcrest Mining is advancing more than 2 percent.

Shares of Resolute Mining are advancing more than 1 percent after the company said it signed a deal to sell its Ravenswood Gold Mine in Queensland to a private equity consortium for total proceeds of up to A$300 million.

In the tech sector, Xero is advancing 1 percent, Wisetech Global is adding 0.6 percent and Appen is higher by 0.2 percent.

In the banking space, Westpac Banking is rising 0.2 percent. Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are all edging up 0.1 percent each.

Among the major miners, BHP is adding 0.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.1 percent, while Rio Tinto is declining 0.3 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly higher after crude oil prices snapped a five-session losing streak and edged up overnight. Oil Search is higher by 0.6 percent and Santos is rising 0.2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is down 0.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6898, down from $0.6900 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is declining following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, while the safe-haven yen strengthened.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is down 70.90 points or 0.30 percent to 23,954.27, after touching a low of 23,923.11 in early trades.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is losing almost 1 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding 0.6 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is declining almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 1 percent.

The major exporters are mostly lower on a stronger yen. Sony is declining almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is down 0.5 percent and Canon is lower by 0.2 percent, while Panasonic is rising more than 2 percent.

Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is losing 0.5 percent and Toyota Motor is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining almost 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 0.3 percent even as crude oil prices snapped a five-day losing streak and edged higher overnight.

Among the other major gainers, NH Foods is rising 2 percent and Nissan Motors is higher by almost 2 percent.

On the flip side, Toho Co. is losing more than 4 percent, while Sumitomo Metal Mining and Screen Holdings are lower by almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that the M2 money stock in Japan was up 2.7 percent on year in December, coming in at 1,041.6 trillion yen. That follows the 2.7 percent increase in November.

The M3 money stock was up an annual 2.3 percent at 1,374.5 trillion yen following the 2.2 percent gain in the previous month.

Japan also will see preliminary December figures for machine tool orders today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday in a lackluster session as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves as they digested quarterly results from several big-name financial companies. Stocks saw some volatility in afternoon trading after a report from Bloomberg said tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese goods are likely to remain in place until after the U.S. elections in November.

The Dow rose just 32.62 points or 0.1 percent at 28,939.67, while the Nasdaq slipped 22.60 points or 0.2 percent to 9,251.33 and the S&P 500 edged down 4.98 points or 0.2 percent to 3,283.15.

The major European markets ended a choppy session slightly higher on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index closed just above the unchanged line, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both inched up by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures ended higher on Tuesday, snapping a five-day losing streak, despite easing worries about geopolitical tensions. WTI crude for February ended up $0.15 or about 0.1 percent at $58.23 a barrel.

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