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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asiaup march18 17jan23 lt

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Wednesday, despite the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, with traders cautiously assessing recent economic data from across the globe and speculating about the policy stance of the Bank of Japan, which is expected to further shift away from its decade-long ultra-loose monetary policy. Asian Markets closed mixed on Tuesday.

Traders are also looking to cash in on recent strength in the markets amid lingering concerns about the outlook for the economy and interest rates.

The Australian stock market is trading modestly higher in choppy trading on Wednesday, recouping the slight losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving a tad above the 7,400 level, despite the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, aided by gains in energy firms on firmer oil prices and technology stocks. Meanwhile, miners and financial stocks mostly declined.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 20.50 points or 0.28 percent to 7,406.80, after touching a high of 7,410.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 24.50 points or 0.32 percent to 7,622.10. Australian stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday.

Among major miners, BHP Group and Mineral Resources are losing almost 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto and OZ Minerals are edging up 0.4 to 0.5 percent each. Fortescue Metals is edging down 0.2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Beach energy and Woodside Energy are losing almost 1 percent each, while Origin Energy is declining 1.5 percent. Santos is edging up 0.5 percent.

In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block is gaining almost 4 percent, while WiseTech Global, Xero and Appen are adding more than 1 percent each. Zip is losing almost 3 percent.

Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank and Commonwealth Bank are edging up 0.1 to 0.2 percent each, while ANZ Banking and Westpac are edging down 0.2 to 0.4 percent each.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are losing almost 1 percent each, while Gold Road Resources is losing almost 4 percent. Evolution Mining is edging up 0.5 percent and Resolute Mining is flat.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.699 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is notably higher on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 moving a tad above the 26,300 level, despite the broadly negative cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders are cautious amid speculation the Bank of Japan might exit from its decade-long ultra-loose monetary policy on Wednesday.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 26,301.86, up 163.18 points or 0.62 percent, after touching a high of 26,336.25 earlier. Japanese stocks ended sharply higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging up 0.3 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is losing almost 1 percent, while Toyota is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is edging down 0.3 percent, while Advantest is gaining almost 1 percent. Tokyo Electron is flat.

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

Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic and Canon are edging up 0.2 to 0.3 percent each, while Sony is flat.

Among the other major gainers, Amada is surging almost 5 percent, Konami Group is gaining more than 4 percent and Chugai Pharmaceutical is adding more than 3 percent, while Terumo, Denka and OKUMA are up almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, there are no major losers.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan will wrap up its monetary policy meeting and then announce its decision on interest rates on Wednesday. The BoJ is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate steady at -0.10 percent.

The value of core machine orders in Japan was down a seasonally adjusted 8.3 percent on month in November, the Cabinet Office said on Wednesday - coming in at 838.8 billion yen. That was well shy of forecasts for a decline of 09 percent following the 5.4 percent increase in October. On a yearly basis, core machine orders sank 3.7 percent - again missing forecasts for a gain of 2.4 percent following the 0.4 percent increase in the previous month. For the fourth quarter of 2022, core machine orders are expected to have 3.6 percent on quarter and 5.3 percent on year.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid-130 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia are higher by between 0.1 and 0.2 percent each. Malaysia and South Korea are down 0.7 and 0.2 percent, respectively. Markets in Taiwan are off through January 30 for the Lunar New Year holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks have moved mostly lower over the course of the trading day on Tuesday after fluctuating early in the session. The major averages have all moved to the downside, with the Dow showing a particularly steep drop.

In recent trading, the Dow and the S&P 500 have fallen to new lows for the session. The Dow is down 389.56 points or 1.1 percent at 33,913.05, the S&P 500 is down 12.01 points or 0.3 percent at 3,987.08 and the Nasdaq is down 35.31 points or 0.3 percent at 11,043.84.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have turned mixed on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled higher on Tuesday on expectations of a jump in demand following better than expected Chinese GDP data. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for February ended higher by $0.32 or 0.4 percent at $80.18 a barrel, the highest settlement since December 30.

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