Asian Markets Lower, Japan Bucks Trend

Asian stock markets, with the exception of Japan, are in negative territory on Tuesday following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street and the plunge in crude oil prices. Investors are also cautious as they focus on the earnings and production results of major companies due this week.

The Australian market is extending losses from the previous session following the mixed cues from Wall Street and the fall in crude oil prices. Investors are cautious as they digested production results of major mining and oil companies.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 9.80 points or 0.16 percent to 6,231.70, off a low of 6,212.10. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 11.10 points or 0.18 percent to 6,315.60.

In the mining space, BHP Billiton is declining more than 1 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding more than 1 percent.

Rio Tinto reported a 14 percent increase in second-quarter iron ore shipments and projected 2018 shipments at the upper end of its guidance range. However, the miner’s shares are lower by 0.4 percent.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices fell more than 4 percent overnight. Oil Search, Santos and Woodside Petroleum are all losing almost 2 percent each.

Oil Search reported a 12 percent sequential increase in second-quarter production and said that full-year production is trending towards the upper end of its production guidance range.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices were flat overnight. Evolution Mining is unchanged and Newcrest Mining is down more than 1 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent.

In economic news, members of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monetary policy board said that the country’s economic growth is continuing at an acceptable race, minutes from the central bank’s July 3 meeting revealed.

In general, global economic expansion continues – with several countries climbing at a rate above trend. The bank conceded that erratic U.S. trade policy is a downside risk, however.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at US$0.7415, down from US$0.7436 on Monday.

The Japanese market, which reopened for trade after a holiday, is rising despite the mixed cues from Wall Street and the fall in crude oil prices as a weaker yen lifted exporters’ shares.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is advancing 136.33 points or 0.60 percent to 22,733.68, off a high of 22,752.03 earlier.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Sony is adding 0.3 percent, Canon is higher by almost 1 percent and Panasonic is rising more than 2 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is losing almost 3 percent.

In the auto sector, Honda is adding almost 1 percent and Toyota is rising more than 1 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is gaining almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex and Japan Petroleum are declining more than 1 percent each after crude oil prices fell more than 4 percent overnight.

Among the market’s best performers, Tokuyama Corp. is rising more than 4 percent, Concordia Financial is gaining more than 3 percent and Yokohama Rubber is higher by 3 percent.

On the flip side, Toho Co. is losing more than 5 percent, Yaskawa Electric is lower by almost 5 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is down more than 3 percent.

In economic news, Japan will provide June numbers for condominium sales today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 112 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are all 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 quarterly financial results from a number of big-name companies this week. Nonetheless, traders largely refrained from cashing in on last week’s gains after a report from the Commerce Department showed retail sales in the U.S. increased in line with economist estimates in the month of June.

While the Dow rose 44.95 points or 0.2 percent to 25,064.36, the Nasdaq dipped 20.26 points or 0.3 percent to 7,805.72 and the S&P 500 edged down 2.88 points or 0.1 percent to 2,798.43.

The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on Monday. While the German DAX Index edged up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.8 percent.

Crude oil prices have dropped below $69 a barrel following comments from the U.S. Treasury Secretary that some oil buyers could get waivers to continue buying Iranian oil. WTI crude for August delivery plunged $2.95 or 4.2 percent to $68.06 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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