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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday with some of the markets recovering after a weak start amid concerns about the spread of the deadly coronavirus from China and its potential impact on the global economy.

Health officials have already confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The U.S. too confirmed its first case of the coronavirus in a patient who recently returned from Wuhan, China.

The Australian market is advancing despite the negative cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 24.80 points or 0.35 percent to 7,091.10 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 24.60 points or 0.34 percent to 7,205.10. Australian stocks closed lower on Tuesday after five sessions of gains.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is rising 2 percent and Rio Tinto is adding 0.2 percent, while BHP is down 0.3 percent.

Tech stocks are also mostly higher. Wisetech Global is gaining more than 3 percent, Xero is advancing more than 1 percent, while Appen is declining 0.4 percent.

The big four banks are mixed. ANZ Banking is adding 0.4 percent and Commonwealth Bank is rising 0.3 percent, while National Australia Bank is declining 0.4 percent and Westpac is lower by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are modestly lower. Evolution Mining is declining 0.4 percent and Newcrest Mining is edging down 0.1 percent.

Oil stocks are also mostly lower. Woodside Petroleum and Santos are declining 0.2 percent each, while Oil Search is rising 0.6 percent.

Santos reported a nearly 18 percent increase in fourth-quarter production, while quarterly revenue edged lower.

In economic news, Australia will see January results for the consumer confidence index from Westpac and December figures for skilled vacancies today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar was quoted at $0.6848 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market recovered after a weak start and is modestly higher.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 55.65 points or 0.23 percent to 23,920.21, after touching a low of 23,831.10 in early trades. Japanese stocks closed lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is lower by 0.6 percent and Fast Retailing is declining 0.4 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is gaining almost 3 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing almost 1 percent.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger safe-haven yen. Canon is declining 0.4 percent and Panasonic is lower by 0.2 percent, while Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are edging down 0.1 percent each.

Among auto stocks, Honda Motor is lower by 0.5 percent and Toyota Motor is losing 0.4 percent.

Toyota Motor said it will recall 3.4 million vehicles worldwide due to a faulty electronic control unit that can result in airbags not deploying in crashes, while Honda Motor said it will recall 2.7 million older vehicles in North America for a separate issue related to potentially defective air bag inflators.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is declining 0.4 percent and Inpex is down 0.2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Haseko is rising more than 4 percent, while Recruit Holdings and Asahi Group are advancing 2 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will release December numbers for department store sales and condominium sales today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks initially move to the downside on Tuesday amid concerns about the economic impact of a deadly coronavirus outbreak in China. The major averages staged a recovery attempt before pulling back once again after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first travel-related case of the coronavirus in the U.S. The CDC said the first case of coronavirus infection in the U.S. was diagnosed in the state of Washington in a patient who recently returned from Wuhan, China.

The Dow slid 152.06 points or 0.5 percent to 29,196.04, the Nasdaq dipped 18.13 points or 0.2 percent to 9,370.81 and the S&P 500 fell 8.83 points or 0.3 percent to 3,320.79.

The European markets also ended mostly lower on Tuesday, although the German DAX Index bucked the downtrend and inched up by 0.1 percent. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both fell by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil prices edged lower on Tuesday as a report from the Energy Information Administration or EIA forecasting a sharp climb in oil production in the U.S. outweighed concerns about supply disruptions in Libya. Traders were also weighing the possible impact of the coronavirus outbreak in China on energy demand. WTI crude for February expired at $58.34 a barrel, down $0.20 or 0.3 percent from the previous close.

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