Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday following the positive cues from Wall Street amid news that the U.S. and China are trying to restart talks to avert a full-blown trade war. Tech stocks also got a boost after Apple reported upbeat third-quarter earnings results.

Investors now look ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision due later in the day. The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, but the accompanying statement is likely to be closely examined for any hints about future rate hikes.

The Australian market is edging higher following the positive cues from Wall Street. Nevertheless, investors are cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision. Weakness in banking stocks was offset by gains in mining and oil stocks that were aided by higher commodity prices.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 5.30 points or 0.08 percent to 6,285.50, off a high of 6,293.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 6.80 points or 0.11 percent to 6,373.00. Australian shares fluctuated before closing roughly flat on Tuesday.

In the mining space, BHP Billiton is advancing 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is rising 0.5 percent and Rio Tinto is edging up less than 0.1 percent.

Gold miners are also higher after gold prices rebounded overnight. Evolution Mining is advancing more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding almost 1 percent.

Oil stocks are modestly higher despite crude oil prices declining overnight. Santos is higher by 0.3 percent, Woodside Petroleum is up 0.2 percent and Oil Search is adding 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks – ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac – are lower in a range of 0.4 percent to 1 percent.

Debt collector and lender Credit Corp Group reported a 17 percent increase in full-year profit on higher revenues. The company’s shares are rising more than 3 percent.

In economic news, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group revealed that the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in July, albeit at a much slower pace, with a Performance of Manufacturing Index score of 52.0. That’s down sharply from 57.4 in June, although it remains above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.

Australia will also see July numbers for the RBA Commodity Price Index today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is holding above the $0.74 mark on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7427 in late-morning trades.

The Japanese market is rising following the overnight gains on Wall Street and on a weaker yen. Upbeat corporate earnings results also boosted investor sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 113.14 points or 0.50 percent to 22,666.86, off a high of 22,709.82 in early trades. Japanese shares ended on a lackluster note Tuesday.

The major exporters are mostly lower despite a weaker yen. Canon and Mitsubishi Electric are losing almost 1 percent each, while Panasonic is down 3 percent.

Sony is gaining almost 6 percent after reporting a higher first-quarter profit and on its upbeat financial outlook. Shares of Sharp Corp. are also gaining more than 6 percent following a 32 percent increase in the June quarter.

In the auto space, Toyota is rising more than 1 percent and Honda is gaining almost 3 percent. In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is higher by almost 2 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is advancing more than 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is rising more than 2 percent.

Among the market’s best performers, JFE Holdings is rising more than 8 percent, Yamato Holdings is gaining almost 7 percent and Kyocera Corp. is higher by more than 6 percent.

On the flip side, Takara Holdings is falling more than 7 percent, Mitsubishi Logistics is losing more than 6 percent and NH Foods is lower by 5 percent.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday following a report from Bloomberg indicating the U.S. and China are trying to restart talks aimed at averting a full-blown trade war. Traders were also digesting the latest batch of U.S. economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing personal income and spending both increased in line with economist estimates in the month of June.

The Dow rose 108.36 points or 0.4 percent to 25,415.19, the Nasdaq advanced 41.78 points or 0.6 percent to 7,671.79 and the S&P 500 climbed 13.69 points or 0.5 percent to 2,816.29.

The major European markets also closed higher on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.4 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index climbed by 0.6 percent.

Crude oil prices slipped on Tuesday amid worries about oversupply in the market after a survey showed a sharp hike in crude production by OPEC. WTI crude for September ended down $1.37 or almost 2 percent at $68.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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