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Asian Markets Trade Mostly Higher

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, on continued bargain hunting and as traders digest the latest batch of quarterly earnings news, with strong gains in technology and financial stocks partially offset by weakness in energy stocks as oil prices fell sharply for a second straight session. Asian Markets closed mostly higher on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, lingering worries about the surge in cases of the coronavirus omicron variant in several countries continues to impact market sentiment.

Traders also continue to look ahead to the U.S. Labor Department's report on consumer price inflation in the month of January. The report, which is due to be released Thursday morning, could impact the outlook for how aggressively the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates to tackle inflation.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving above the 7,200 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, with technology and financial stocks leading the gains as traders digest company earnings reports, particularly from Commonwealth Bank.

Concerns over the domestic COVID-19 cases have also softened despite a recent spike in cases is some areas. New South Wales reported 10,312 new cases and 20 deaths on Tuesday and Victoria also reported 9,908 new cases and 21 deaths. Queensland recorded 6,902 new cases and 24 deaths, ACT reported 475 new cases, Northern Territory reported 1,160 new cases and Tasmania reported 574 new cases and two deaths.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 46.80 points or 0.65 percent to 7,233.50, after touching a high of 7,243.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 46.40 points or 0.62 percent to 7,535.40. Australian stocks ended sharply higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group is losing almost 1 percent, while OZ Minerals is edging up 0.5 percent, Fortescue Metals is gaining more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is advancing almost 1 percent.

Mineral Resources is plunging more than 7 percent after the lithium and iron ore miner reported a drop in half-year earnings amid drop in iron ore prices and worker shortages and said it will not pay an interim dividend.

Oil stocks are lower tumbled as oil prices fell sharply for a second straight session. Woodside Petroleum, Beach energy and Santos are losing more than 2 percent each, while Origin Energy is declining almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is gaining almost 1 percent and Appen is adding almost 2 percent, while Xero and Block are edging up 0.3 percent each. Zip is losing almost 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Westpac advancing almost 2 percent.

Commonwealth Bank is adding more than 4 percent after it reported higher than expected jump in half-year cash profit on growth in mortgage and business loans. It also declared an interim dividend and an additional $2 billion share buyback.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are edging up 0.3 percent each, while Resolute Mining is gaining 3.5 percent. Northern Star Resources is edging down 0.4 percent and Gold Road Resources is losing almost 1 percent.

In other news, shares in Computershare are surging more than 10 percent after the company reported a jump in profit and upgraded full year guidance. It also declared an interim dividend.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.716 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly higher on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark Nikkei index a tad staying below the 27,500 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, with gains across most sectors, particularly in technology and financials.

Lingering concerns about the impact of the rapid spread of the coronavirus Omicron variant remain, with new daily cases breaching the 1,00,000 mark last week. With Tokyo and 33 of the 47 prefectures already under a quasi-state of emergency, the government is mulling extending it for Tokyo and 12 other prefectures for about three weeks beyond Sunday's expiration.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,530.82, up 246.30 points or 0.90 percent, after touching a high of 27,543.76 earlier. Japanese stocks closed slightly higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is surging more than 5 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is gaining almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is adding almost 1 percent and Toyota is gaining almost 2 percent.

SoftBank Group announced plans to take Arm public following the collapse of a planned sale of the unit to Nvidia.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is gaining almost 2 percent, Advantest is adding more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is advancing almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is adding more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is advancing almost 2 percent.

Among the major exporters, Panasonic is gaining almost 2 percent and Canon is edging up 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are flat.

Among the other major gainers, IHI is soaring almost 10 percent, while AGC and JFE Holdings are surging more than 8 percent each. Nippon Sheet Glass, sharp and Z Holdings are gaining almost 6 percent each, while Olympus is adding almost 5 percent. Alps Alpine is up more than 4 percent, while Nissan Motor and Minebea Mitsumi are adding almost 4 percent each.

Conversely, DeNA is plunging almost 9 percent, Taiheiyo Cement is losing more than 6 percent and Taisei is down almost 4 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 115 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is surging 1.8 percent, while New Zealand, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia are higher by between 0.2 and 0.9 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Tuesday, more than offsetting the weakness seen on Monday. The major averages climbed firmly into positive territory after showing a lack of direction early in the session.

The major averages saw further upside going into the close, reaching new highs for the session. The Dow jumped 371.65 points or 1.1 percent to 35,462.78, the Nasdaq surged 178.79 points or 1.3 percent to 14,194.46 and the S&P 500 advanced 37.67 points or 0.8 percent to 4,521.54.

Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices settled sharply lower Tuesday, extending losses from the previous session. Oil prices dropped with traders eyeing U.S.-Iran talks, which if successful could flood the market. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March dropped $1.96 or about 2.2 percent at $89.36 a barrel.

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