(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly trading higher on Tuesday, although buying interest is somewhat subdued with investors treading cautiously ahead of the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting.
In the Australian market, mining and healthcare stocks are trading weak, while shares from financial and utilities sectors are finding some support.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 5,227.6 in early trades, is currently trading at 5,253.7, up 5.7 points or 0.1 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is up 4.8 points or 0.1 percent at 5,246.5, more than 20 points off the day's low of 5,223.1.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank is up 1.2 percent, National Australia Bank is trading 1.4 percent up and Westpac (WBK) is up 0.6 percent, while Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down with a loss of 0.8 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are trading modestly higher.
Top miners BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are trading lower by 0.5 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.
Regis Resources is down more than 5 percent. Newcrest Mining is down 3.3 percent. Challenger, Beach Energy and Ansell are trading lower by 2 to 2.6 percent. Whitehaven Coal, Leighton Holdings, Sims Metal Management, Atlas Iron, David Jones, Downer EDI and News Corp. (NWS) are also trading notably lower.
Meanwhile, Duet Group, Mineral Resources, Mirvac Group, Suncorp Group, APA Group, Transurban Group and Qantas Airways are trading higher, gaining 1.2 to 2.6 percent.
Shares of TPG Telecom are up nearly 8 percent following the company lifting its annual net profit after growing the number of its broadband and mobile phone subscribers at a faster rate than last year. TPG reported an annual net profit of A$149.2 million for the year ended July 31, up 64 percent on tnet profit of A$90.96 million in fiscal 2012.
On the economic front, the total number of new motor vehicle sales in Australia was up a seasonally adjusted 0.8 percent at 94,396 in August compared to the previous month, according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That follows the 3.5 percent contraction in July.
The Reserve Bank of Australia will release the minutes from its September monetary policy meeting. At the meeting, the bank left the nation's benchmark interest rate on hold at 2.5 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar was steady against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9318, against Monday's close of US$0.9335.
After a firm start and a subsequent setback, the Japanese stock market recovered with investors indulging in some buying, betting on hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve will delay scaling back its stimulus program.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which rose to 14,474.5 after declining to around 14,388 in early trades, was up 13 points or 0.1 percent at 14,417.7 when the morning session ended.
Furukawa Co. shares rose nearly 7 percent. NTN Corp. gained 5.4 percent. Advantest Corp. ( ATE ), Matsui Securities and Tokyo Electron were up 4 to 5 percent at the break.
Konami Corp., Mitsui Chemicals, Yahoo Japan, JFE Holdings, Sony Corp. ( SNE ), Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Hitachi, Taiheiyo Cement and Fujifilm Holdings gained 2 to 4 percent.
Konica Minolta, Toho Zinc, Daikin Industries, TDK Corp., Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, Nissan Chemical Industries, Unitika and Resona Holdings also moved up sharply.
Daiichi Sankyo Co., which owns 64 percent of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., lost more than 6 percent following U.S. regulators restricting imports from one of Ranbaxy's facilities.
KDDI Corp. shares lost 6.2 percent. Chubu Electric Power, Shinsei Bank, Softbank Corp., Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Kansai Electric Power, Hitachi Zosen, NTT DoCoMo and J Front Retailing are down 1 to 4 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the lower 99 yen-range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 99.21 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai and South Korea are trading notably lower. Hong Kong, Indonesia and Taiwan are down with modest losses, and New Zealand is down marginally, while Malaysia and Singapore are trading slightly higher.
On Wall Street, stocks ended higher on Monday, although buying interest waned after an early rally. The initial strength came on the heels of news that former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has withdrawn his name from consideration to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke amid concerns about a potentially acrimonious confirmation process.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq subsequently pulled back into negative territory over the course of the session, although the Dow and the S&P 500 managed to hold on to notable gains. While the Nasdaq edged down 4.3 points or 0.1 percent to 3,717.8, the Dow jumped 118.7 points or 0.8 percent to 15,494.8 and the S&P 500 climbed 9.6 points or 0.6 percent to 1,697.6.
Major European markets too closed on a firm note on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index moved up 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 index advanced by 0.9 percent and the German DAX index closed up 1.2 percent.
U.S. crude oil prices declined on Monday amid easing worries about supply following a US-Russia deal over the weekend to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons. Crude for October delivery closed at $106.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, down $1.62 from Friday's closing price.
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