Asian Markets Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Tuesday following the record highs overnight on Wall Street and as investor sentiment improved after the U.S. removed China from a list of currency manipulators ahead of the signing of a phase one trade deal between the two countries on Wednesday. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to visit Washington to sign the deal.

The Australian market is advancing, led by banks, miners and tech stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 45.00 points or 0.65 percent to 6,948.70 and the broader All Ordinaries Index is up 45.90 points or 0.65 percent to 7,066.10. Australian stocks closed lower on Monday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals and BHP are higher by more than 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is adding 0.5 percent. South32 is rising more than 2 percent.

Steel producer BlueScope Steel is among the best performers on the stock exchange, gaining more than 3 percent.

In the banking space, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are advancing in a range of 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent, while Westpac Banking is edging up 0.1 percent.

In the tech sector, Appen is higher by more than 2 percent, while Xero and Wisetech Global are advancing more than 1 percent each.

Gold miners are weak after gold prices declined to a one-week low overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are mixed after crude oil prices fell to a six-week low overnight. Oil Search is rising 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is edging up 0.1 percent, while Santos is down 0.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6900, down from $0.6915 on Monday.

The Japanese market, which resumed trading after a holiday on Monday, is rising while the safe-haven yen weakened.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 179.65 points or 0.75 percent to 24,030.22, after touching a high of 24,059.86 earlier.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group Corp. is rising more than 2 percent, while Fast Retailing is gaining almost 4 percent.

Among tech stocks, Tokyo Electron is gaining almost 2 percent and Advantest is rising more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Sony and Panasonic are advancing more than 1 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric is adding almost 1 percent and Canon is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor is advancing almost 1 percent and Honda Motor is adding 0.3 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is declining more than 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is down 0.3 percent after crude oil prices fell to a six-week low overnight.

In economic news, Japan posted a current account surplus of 1,436.8 billion yen in November, up 75 percent on year. That exceeded expectations for a surplus of 1,424.8 billion yen following the 1,816.8 billion yen surplus in October.

Japan’s trade balance showed a deficit of 2.5 billion yen, missing expectations for a surplus of 103.8 billion yen and down from the surplus of 254.0 billion yen in the previous month. Exports were down 10.2 percent on year to 6,244.2 billion yen, while imports slid an annual 16.6 percent to 6,246.6 billion yen.

The Bank of Japan said that overall bank lending in Japan was up 1.8 percent on year in December, coming in at 544.091 trillion yen. That’s down from the 2.1 percent increase in November.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in lower 110 yen-range on Tuesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed at new record highs on Monday amid continued optimism about impact of the phase one U.S.-China trade deal due to be signed later this week. Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to visit Washington to sign the deal. Stocks saw further upside after various media reports said the Treasury Department plans to drop its designation of China as a “currency manipulator” ahead of the signing of the deal.

While the Dow rose 83.28 points or 0.3 percent to 28,907.05, the Nasdaq jumped 95.07 points or 1 percent to 9,273.93 and the S&P 500 advanced 22.78 points or 0.7 percent to 3,288.13.

The major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Monday. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent, while the French CAC 40 Index closed just below the unchanged line and the German DAX Index dipped by 0.2 percent.

Crude oil prices declined sharply on Monday amid easing worries about U.S.-Iran tensions, resulting in the futures contract settling at their lowest level in about six weeks. WTI crude ended down $0.96 or about 1.6 percent to $58.08 a barrel, the lowest price since early December.

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