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Asian Markets Mostly Higher Amid Cautious Trades

asiancommentary jan02 22apr19 lt

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Tuesday with modest gains following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors are cautious as they look ahead to the major corporate earnings results due this week and on concerns that the Chinese government may slow down monetary easing. Meanwhile, the surge in crude oil prices to nearly six-month highs boosted energy stocks.

The Australian market, which resumed trading after the four-day long Easter weekend, is advancing despite the mixed cues from Wall Street. Higher crude oil prices lifted energy stocks, while the major miners are also rising.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is rising 24.10 points or 0.38 percent to 6,283.90, after touching a high of 6,291.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is adding 28.20 points or 0.44 percent to 6,378.10.

In the oil sector, Oil Search is up almost 1 percent, Woodside Petroleum is advancing more than 1 percent and Santos is rising more than 2 percent.

The major miners are also gaining, buoyed by higher oil prices. Fortescue Metals is higher by more than 2 percent, BHP Group is adding 0.7 percent, and Rio Tinto is rising 0.5 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks are mixed. ANZ Banking is adding 0.3 percent and Westpac is rising 0.2 percent, while Commonwealth Bank is down 0.1 percent and National Australia Bank is lower by 0.3 percent.

Gold miners are weak despite an increase in gold prices overnight. Newcrest Mining losing more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is lower by more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7124, down from $0.7136 on Monday.

The Japanese market slipped into negative territory after opening higher despite the mixed cues from Wall Street. Investors turned cautious as they looked ahead to earnings results from several big-name companies later this week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is declining 65.19 points or 0.29 percent to 22,152.71, after rising to a high of 22,268.37 in early trades. The Japanese market closed modestly higher on Monday.

The major exporters are lower on a stronger yen. Sony is down 0.2 percent, Canon is lower by 0.3 percent, Mitsubishi Electric is declining 0.4 percent and Panasonic is losing 0.8 percent.

Among tech stocks, Advantest is lower by more than 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is adding 0.2 percent. In the auto space, Toyota is edging up 0.1 percent and Honda is rising 0.6 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging up 0.1 percent, while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum and Inpex are gaining almost 4 percent each after crude oil prices rose to a nearly six-month high overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Daiwa House Industry Co. and Fuji Electric Co. are gaining almost 3 percent each, while JXTG Holdings and Daiichi Sankyo are higher by more than 2 percent each.

On the flip side, Tokai Carbon is losing almost 6 percent, Showa Denko is lower by more than 5 percent and Yaskawa Electric is declining more than 4 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will see March figures for department store sales and machine tool orders today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 111 yen-range on Tuesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Monday in choppy trading as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of a slew of earnings news from big-name companies in the coming days. The Easter Monday holiday, which has kept many overseas markets closed on the day, also contributed to light trading activity.

While the Dow dipped 48.49 points or 0.2 percent to 26,511.05, the Nasdaq rose 17.21 points or 0.2 percent to 8,015.27 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.94 points or 0.1 percent to 2,907.97.

The major European markets remained closed on Monday for the Easter Monday holiday.

Crude oil prices rose sharply on Monday after the U.S. ended the waivers it had offered to major importers of Iranian oil. WTI crude futures settled at $65.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on expiration day, up $1.70 or 2.66 percent.

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