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Asian Markets Mostly Higher

asiaup march19 25jan23 lt

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Thursday, despite the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, as some markets returned after holidays as they play catching up. Traders are also optimistic the US Fed will ease the pace of interest rate hikes, citing slowing wage and inflation growth as well as the recent comments from Fed officials. Asian Markets closed mostly higher on Wednesday.

Traders now focus on the fourth-quarter U.S. GDP data due later in the day, which could set the tone for the Fed's January 31 to February 1 monetary policy meeting.

The Australian stock market is closed for Australia Day holiday on Thursday. Australian stocks snapped a five-session winning streak and ended modestly lower on Wednesday.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.712 on Thursday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly lower on Thursday after opening in the green, giving up some of the gains in the previous four sessions, with the Nikkei 225 staying above the 27,300 level, following the mostly negative cues from global markets overnight, with weakness across most sectors, led by financial and technology stocks. Traders also digested domestic data that showed a rise in producer prices.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,361.10, down 33.91 points or 0.12 percent, after hitting a low of 27,316.35 and a high of 27,502.15 earlier. Japanese stocks closed modestly higher on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is edging down 0.2 percent and Honda is also edging down 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is losing more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is declining almost 2 percent, while Advantest is slipping almost 3 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging down 0.4 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial and Mizuho Financial are losing almost 1 percent each.

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

Among the other major losers, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is losing more than 3 percent and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is down almost 3 percent.

Conversely, Sumitomo Osaka Cement is gaining more than 4 percent, while Nippon Sheet Glass and Taiheiyo Cement are adding almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, producer prices in Japan were up 1.5 percent on year in December, the Bank of Japan said on Thursday - shy of expectations for an increase of 1.6 percent and slowing from 1.7 percent in November. On a monthly basis, producer prices rose 0.1 percent, easing from 0.2 percent in the previous month. The services producer price index for all items rose 1.5 percent on year, while the index excluding international transportation gained an annual 1.2 percent. For all of 2022, producer prices rose 1.7 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 129 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is up 1.8 percent, while New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Indonesia are higher by between 0.3 and 0.7 percent each. Malaysia is bucking the trend and is down 0.3 percent. Taiwan and China remain closed for the Lunar New Year holidays.

On Wall Street, stocks moved sharply lower in early trading on Wednesday but staged a significant recovery over the course of the session. The major averages climbed well off their lows of the session, with the Dow finishing the day just above the unchanged line.

After falling by more than 450 points early in the session, the Dow inched up 9.88 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 33,743.84. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 edged down just 0.73 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 4,016.22, while the Nasdaq dipped 20.91 points or 0.2 percent to 11,313.36 after plunging as much as 2.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved modestly lower on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil futures rose slightly higher Wednesday, with traders reacting to reports that a diesel refinery in Louisiana was shut after a fire on Saturday. The disruption is expected to last at least a month. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March settled at $80.15 a barrel, up just 2 cents from the previous close.

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