Asian Markets Mostly Higher With Modest Gains

Australian dollars in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 15, 2016. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett) NO ARCHIVING

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday despite the negative cues from Wall Street. Investor sentiment received a boost after the International Monetary Fund or IMF raised its outlook for global economic growth this year to 5.5 percent from 5.2 percent projected earlier.

However, gains are modest in most markets as investors remained cautious amid mixed earnings results from major companies and as they looked ahead to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision due later in the day.

The Australian market, which resumed trading after a holiday in the previous session, is declining.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 38.70 points or 0.57 percent to 6,786.00 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 43.70 points or 0.61 percent to 7,067.70.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is tumbling more than 6 percent, Rio Tinto is losing almost 4 percent and BHP Group is lower by almost 3 percent.

Oil stocks are weak after crude oil prices declined overnight. Woodside Petroleum and Santos are lower by more than 3 percent each, while Oil Search is losing almost 3 percent.

Gold miners are also lower after gold prices extended losses to a fourth straight session overnight. Newcrest Mining is declining more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is down 0.2 percent.

In the tech space, Appen is declining more than 1 percent and WiseTech Global is down 0.2 percent, while Afterpay is edging up 0.1 percent.

Bucking the trend, the big four banks are mostly higher. Commonwealth Bank is advancing more than 1 percent, National Australia Bank is adding almost 1 percent and Westpac is higher by 0.3 percent, while ANZ Banking is edging down 0.1 percent.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said consumer prices in Australia were up 0.9 percent on year in the fourth quarter of 2020, exceeding expectations for 0.7 percent, which would have been unchanged from the third quarter.

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s trimmed mean was up 0.4 percent on quarter and 1.2 percent on year – both matching forecasts and unchanged. The weighted median rose 0.5 percent on quarter and 1.4 percent on year after rising 0.3 percent on quarter and 1.3 percent on year in the previous three months.

Australia also will see December results for the leading economic index from Westpac today.

The Japanese market is advancing following sharp losses in the previous session.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 134.96 points or 0.47 percent to 28,681.14 after rising to a high of 28,754.99. The Japanese market closed lower on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.3 percent and Fast Retailing is up 0.2 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is lower by almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 0.6 percent.

The major exporters are mostly higher despite a slightly stronger yen. Panasonic is gaining more than 3 percent, Canon is rising almost 2 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is advancing more than 1 percent, while Sony is lower by 0.4 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is lower by 0.2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 0.1 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is adding 0.2 percent and Honda is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, NGK Insulators is rising more than 6 percent, JTEKT Corp. is higher by more than 4 percent and Nisshin Seifun Group is higher by more than 2 percent.

Conversely, M3 is lower by more than 3 percent and Nippon Steel is losing more than 2 percent.

In economic news, Japan will see final November numbers for its leading and coincident indexes today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 103 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia are also higher. Indonesia is losing more than 2 percent, while Shanghai and New Zealand are also lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed lower on Tuesday, partly reflecting uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets after the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 climbed to new record closing highs on Monday. Optimism about additional stimulus under President Joe Biden has helped drive stocks higher in recent sessions, although reports have pointed to intensifying opposition from GOP lawmakers. Traders may also have been reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement on Wednesday.

The Dow slipped 22.96 points or 0.1 percent to 30,937.04, the Nasdaq edged down 9.93 points or 0.1 percent to 13,626.07 and the S&P 500 dipped 5.74 points or 0.2 percent to 3,849.62.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index surged up by 1.7 percent, the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.9 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil futures settled lower on Tuesday, as traders looked ahead to weekly inventory data, and appeared a bit hesitant to create significant long positions due to the uncertain outlook for energy demand. WTI crude for March delivery dipped $0.16 or about 0.3 percent to $52.61 a barrel.

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