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Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trade


Asian stock markets are mixed on Tuesday with investors treading cautiously as they awaited the outcome of the high-level U.S.-China trade talks currently underway in Beijing.

The U.S. and China will resume their second day of negotiations on trade today. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish is leading the U.S. team at the two-day meeting. Meanwhile, a spokesman for China's Foreign Ministry said that China is willing to resolve its trade disputes with the U.S. on an equal footing.

The Australian market is modestly higher. Mining stocks and banks are among the leading gainers, while resources stocks are weak despite higher commodity prices. Investors also digested Australia's trade data for November that missed expectations.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 10.50 points or 0.18 percent to 5,693.70, off a high of 5,700.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 10.50 points or 0.18 percent to 5,755.00. The Australian market closed notably higher on Monday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 1 percent, BHP Group is adding 0.2 percent and Rio Tinto is up 0.1 percent.

The Big Four banks are also mostly higher with modest gains. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miner Newcrest Mining is edging down 0.1 percent and Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent despite a modest rebound in gold prices.

Oil stocks are also mostly weak despite a more than 1 percent increase in crude oil prices. Santos is lower by almost 2 percent and Oil Search is declining 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent.

Bingo Industries has offered to divest its waste processing plant in eastern Sydney to address anti-trust concerns related to its planned A$577.5 million acquisition of smaller rival Dial-a-Dump. The waste management company's shares are rising 4 percent.

ResMed has completed its $225 million acquisition of U.S.-based asthma and pulmonary specialist Propeller Health. Shares of the sleep device maker are advancing more than 1 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that Australia had a seasonally adjusted merchandise trade surplus of A$1.925 billion in November. That was shy of expectations for a surplus of A$2.175 billion and down from A$2.316 billion in October.

Exports for the month rose A$532 million or 1 percent to A$38.445 billion, while imports rose A$620 million or 2 percent to A$36.520 billion.

Australia will also release December numbers for job advertisements today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is higher against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7147, up from $0.7135 on Monday.

The Japanese market is extending gains from the previous session.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 117.76 points or 0.59 percent to 20,156.73, after touching a high of 20,258.50 in early trades. Japanese shares ended notably higher on Monday.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 1 percent and Panasonic is adding 0.3 percent, while Sony is declining 0.5 percent and Canon is edging lower by 0.1 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is losing almost 2 percent while Tokyo Electron is rising more than 1 percent. Among the major automakers, Honda is advancing almost 2 percent and Toyota is adding more than 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is higher by almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is advancing almost 1 percent. In the oil space, Inpex is rising more than 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is gaining almost 3 percent after crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent overnight.

Takeda Pharmaceutical, which completed its acquisition of Irish drugmaker Shire plc on Monday, said it expects its annual consolidated sales to nearly double to $31.3 billion following the acquisition. The company's shares are higher by more than 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Tokai Carbon is gaining more than 8 percent, Olympus Corp. is higher by more than 6 percent and Showa Denko is rising more than 4 percent.

On the flip side, Seven & I Holdings and Shiseido Co. are losing almost 3 percent each, while Kao Corp., Kikkoman Corp. and Ricoh Co. are declining more than 2 percent each.

On the economic front, Japan will release December results for its consumer confidence index today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 108 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong are modestly higher, while New Zealand is edging higher. Shanghai, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are all modestly lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Monday, partly reflecting optimism about high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China in Beijing. Meanwhile, traders largely shrugged off a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing growth in U.S. service sector activity slowed by more than anticipated in the month of December.

The Dow rose 98.19 points or 0.4 percent to 23,531.35, the Nasdaq surged up 84.61 points or 1.3 percent to 6,823.57 and the S&P 500 climbed 17.75 points or 1.7 percent to 2,549.69.

European stocks climbed off their worst levels but still closed lower on Monday. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both fell by 0.4 percent.

Crude oil prices rose on Monday amid easing worries about global growth and energy demand. WTI crude for February delivery climbed $0.56 or 1.2 percent to $48.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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