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Asian Markets Higher Amid Cautious Trades

by October 18, 2016 General
CANBERA (dpa-AFX) – Asian stock markets are higher on Tuesday, with some of the markets recovering from earlier losses, as crude oil prices rose above the $50 mark in Asian trades and the U.S. dollar weakened on soft manufacturing data. However, gains are muted in most markets as investors treaded cautiously.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher following the losses in the past few sessions and tracking the negative lead overnight from Wall Street.

Investors are also digesting the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monetary policy meeting held earlier in October, when the central bank kept the benchmark lending rate unchanged.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 12.30 points or 0.23 percent to 5,401.00, off a high of 5,406.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 12.00 points or 0.22 percent to 5,482.90.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton is adding 0.6 percent and Fortescue Metals is advancing 0.8 percent, while Rio Tinto is declining 0.2 percent.

Gold miners Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining are rising more than 2 percent each even as gold prices barely budged overnight.

In the oil sector, Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.2 percent and Santos is advancing 0.8 percent. Oil Search’s shares are rising 0.6 percent after it reported a 16 percent increase in revenue for the September quarter.

In the banking space, ANZ Bank is adding 0.7 percent, National Australia Bank is edging up 0.05 percent and Westpac is rising 0.3 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is declining 0.3 percent.

Shares in wagering giants Tabcorp and Tatts Group are placed in a trading halt, amid speculation of a potential merger.

Cochlear has warned that it could move its research and development out of Australia due to tax concession cuts. Shares of the hearing implant maker’s shares are adding 0.2 percent.

Crown Resorts is providing its Australian employees detained in China with legal representation, but its largest shareholder James Packer said he is deeply concerned for their welfare. The casinos operator’s shares, which fell 14 percent on Monday, are advancing more than 1 percent.

Fuel refiner and retailer Caltex Australia has confirmed that it made a conditional and confidential proposal to buy supermarket giant Woolworths’ fuel business. Shares of Caltex are losing almost 2 percent, while Woolworths’s shares are gaining 0.5 percent.

In economic news, members of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monetary policy board expect the Australian economy to see a gradual slowing in the short term before recovering, minutes from the bank’s October 4 meeting revealed. There remains a high degree of uncertainty in the domestic labor and housing markets, the minutes showed.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said that the total number of new motor vehicle sales in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 2.5 percent on month in September, coming in at 100,640. That follows the downwardly revised flat reading in August.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is extending gains against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. In late-morning trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7663, up from US$0.7600 on Monday.

The Japanese market recovered from a weak start and is modestly higher. The market opened lower following the negative cues from Wall Street and on a stronger yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 35.46 points or 0.21 percent to 16,935.58, off a high of 16,936.90 earlier.

Among the major exporters, Toshiba is advancing 0.9 percent, Sony is rising 0.8 percent, Panasonic is adding 0.4 percent and Canon is up 0.1 percent. Automaker Toyota is declining almost 1 percent, while Honda is up 0.3 percent.

Fast Retailing is adding almost 2 percent, while SoftBank is losing more than 1 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by more than 1 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is down more than 1 percent and JX Holdings is edging down 0.02 percent on lower crude oil prices.

Among the other major gainers, Tokuyama Corp. and Mitsui Chemicals are gaining more than 4 percent each, while Nitto Denko is rising more than 3 percent.

On the flip side, Toho Co. is losing more than 2 percent and Pioneer Corp. is down 2 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the upper 103 yen-range on Tuesday. Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan are higher. New Zealand is losing more than 1 percent.

On Wall Street, stocks ended modestly lower on Monday following the release of some disappointing U.S. economic data. This includes a report from the Federal Reserve showing a smaller than expected increase in industrial production in September.

The Dow dipped 51.98 points or 0.3 percent to 18,086.40, the Nasdaq fell 14.34 points or 0.3 percent to 5,199.82 and the S&P 500 slid 6.48 points or 0.3 percent to 2,126.50.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Monday. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index slid by 0.7 percent and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.5 percent.

Crude oil futures slipped below $50 a barrel Monday amid signs that Iran will pick up the slack when Saudi Arabia and Russia curb output. WTI oil lost 41 cents, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $49.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the first settlement below $50 since October 7.

In Asian trades, crude oil prices are up 0.5 percent to $50.21 a barrel.

Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX