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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asiaup march18 22jun21 lt

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Wednesday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street on easing concerns over the outlook for interest rates. The US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell continued to downplay the risks of inflation during a testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, also noting that the economy has shown sustained improvement recently. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Tuesday.

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Wednesday, giving up some of the strong gains of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying just above the 7,300 level, ignoring the positive cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders digested weaker than expected local manufacturing and services data. Weakness in mining, banking and energy stocks are offsetting gains in technology stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 27.30 points or 0.37 percent to 7,315.60, after hitting a low of 7,303.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 21.00 points or 0.28 percent to 7,571.70. Australian stocks ended sharply higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Mineral Resources are gaining almost 1 percent each, while OZ Minerals is adding more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.3 percent. Rio Tinto is flat.

Oil stocks are lower after crude oil prices tumbled. Oil Search, Woodside Petroleum and Beach energy are losing more than 1 percent each, while Santos is down almost 3 percent and Origin Energy is down almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay is gaining more than 2 percent, Appen is adding more than 1 percent, Xero is edging up 0.4 percent and WiseTech Global is rising almost 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are all losing more than 1 percent each.

Gold miners are mostly lower as gold prices edged down overnight. Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are edging down 0.2 percent each, while Resolute Mining is losing almost 1 percent and Gold Road Resources is down almost 2 percent. Evolution Mining is edging up 0.2 percent.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in June, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics revealed on Wednesday, with a manufacturing PMI score of 58.4. That's down from 60.4 in May, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the services PMI fell to 56.0 from 58.0 in June and the composite index slipped to 56.1 from 58.0 a month earlier.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.755 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is slightly higher after treading briefly into the red in choppy trading on Wednesday, extending the strong gains of the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index just above the 28,900 level, following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Traders are upbeat amid positive indications on the economy recovery in the Bank of Japan's monetary policy minutes of the April meeting.

Members of the Bank of Japan's monetary policy board said that the country's economy continues to see sign of recovery, minutes from the board's meeting on April 26-27 revealed on Wednesday. At the meeting the BoJ decided to keep its monetary stimulus unchanged, holding the benchmark interest rate steady at -0.1 percent. It also downgraded its near-term inflation forecast and raised its growth projections despite the ongoing Covid restrictions.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,916.68, up 32.55 points or 0.11 percent, after touching a high of 29,007.83 and a low of 28,860.06 earlier. Japanese stocks closed sharply higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is gaining almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are losing almost 2 percent each.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are edging up 0.4 percent, while Advantest is gaining almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 2 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are losing almost 1 percent each.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is losing almost 1 percent and Sony is down more than 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is edging down 0.2 percent, while Canon is edging up 0.2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Z Holdings is gaining almost 3 percent, while M3 and Dentsu Group are adding more than 2 percent each. Marui Group, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Bandai Namco Holdings, Sumco, Toyota Tsusho, Marui Group and CyberAgent are up almost 2 percent each.

Conversely, Eisai is losing almost 6 percent, while Nippon Yusen K.K. and West Japan Railway are down almost 3 percent each. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and NEC are declining more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to expand in June, albeit at a slower pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Wednesday with a manufacturing PMI score of 51.5. That's down from 53.0 in May, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. This was the weakest reading of the headline Index for four months. The survey also showed that the services PMI rose to 47.2 from 45.7 in June and the composite index fell to 47.8 from 48.8 a month earlier.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan is gaining 1.3 percent and Hong Kong is adding 1 percent. New Zealand, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, and China are higher by between 0.1 and 0.4 percent each. Malaysia is bucking the trend and is down 0.3 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Tuesday after showing a lack of direction early in the session. With the upward move on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new record closing high.

The major averages pulled back off their highs going into the close but remained in positive territory. The Dow rose 68.61 points or 0.2 percent to 33,945.58, the Nasdaq advanced 111.79 points or 0.8 percent to 14,253.27 and the S&P 500 climbed 21.65 points or 0.5 percent to 4,284.44.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent and the French CAC 40 Index inched up by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Tuesday, weighed down by speculation that OPEC and its allies will agree to increase crude production. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for July ended down $0.60 or 0.8 percent at $73.06 a barrel on the expiration day. WTI Crude oil futures for August, the new front-month contract, fell $0.27 or 0.4 percent at $72.85 a barrel.

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