(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are trading subdued on Tuesday, with investors treading cautiously amid a lack of fresh triggers. Geopolitical concerns and worries about a slowdown in China are also weighing on the markets.
The Australian market is up marginally after trading in negative territory till around noon. Energy, mining, industrial stocks are weak, while consumer staples, financial and healthcare stocks are mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 4 points or 0.1 percent at 5,413.0, coming off a low of 5,384.4. The broader All Ordinaries index, which declined to 5,367.5, is currently trading at 5,395.3, up 5 points or 0.1 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are modestly higher, while National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are down 0.3 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are up 0.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are flat. Newcrest Mining is lower by 1.3 percent, while Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent. Fortescue Metals has announced a 1.16 billion tonne addition to its Greater Solomon mineral resource, to 2.66 billion tonnes.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search are up 0.3 to 0.6 percent, while Origin Energy and Caltex Australia are flat.
Treasury Wine Estates Ltd shares are rising 20 percent after the company rejected a A$3.05 billion or $2.85 billion acquisition offer from global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. L.P., deeming the offer as being not in the interests of its shareholders. Treasury Wine Estates also said the offer does not reflect the fundamental value of the company.
Duet Group is moving up 4 percent. Metcash, QBE Insurance Group and Bluescope Steel are up 1 to 1.5 percent.
Meanwhile, Mineral Resources is losing over 4 percent. Arrium and Downer EDI are down 2.6 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Leighton Holdings is down nearly 2 percent. Brambles, Incitec Pivot, Monadelphous Group, Primary Healthcare, CSL and WorleyParsons are declining 1 to 1.5 percent.
On the economic front, the Conference Board's leading index was unchanged in March, following the downwardly revised 0.2 percent monthly increase in February.
Negative contributions from building approvals offsetting the positive contributions from the yield spread and sales to inventories ratio, the Conference Board said. The coincident index added 0.2 percent in March after gaining 0.3 percent in the previous month.
With March's gain, the coincident economic index gained 1.4 percent in the six-month period through March 2014 - considerably stronger than the 0.2 percent growth in the previous six months.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened slightly weak against the U.S. dollar. In early trades, the local unit was quoting at US$0.9308, down 0.4 percent from Monday's close of US$0.9350.
The Japanese stock market surged higher, with investors indulging in some bargain hunting after recent declines. The overnight positive close on Wall Street also aided the upmove to an extent.
Steel, non-ferrous metals, real estate and technology stocks were among the notable gainers. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 119.9 points or 0.9 percent at 14,126.3 when the morning session ended.
Pacific Metals shot up as much as 15 percent. Yahoo Japan Corp. shares jumped 10 percent following a rating upgrade after the company canceled plans to acquire eAccess Ltd. from Softbank Corp.
Sumitomo Metal Mining, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Kansai Electric Power, Tokyo Tatemono, Nichirei Corp., J Front Retailing, Sumitomo Realty & Development, Showa Denko KK and Dentsu Inc. are moving up 2 to 4.5 percent.
Nippon Suisan Kaisha, Fujitsu, Furukawa, Astellas Pharma, Nissan Motor, Suzuki Motor, Nisshin Group Holdings, Japan Steel Works, KDDI Corp., Nomura Holdings and Toho Zinc also rose sharply.
Meanwhile, Credit Saison, Mitsumi Electric, Kuboto Corp., Shinsei Bank, Casio Computer, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Alps Electric, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Holdings, Mitsubishi Motors, Fuji Electric, Ebara Corp., Sharp Corp., Casio Computer and Japan Tobacco lost 1 to 2.5 percent.
On the economic front, final March numbers for Japan's leading and coincident indexes are due later in the day. Little change is expected from the preliminary readings that suggested scores of 106.5 and 114.0, respectively.
Japan also will release March numbers for its all industry activity index, plus April figures for department store sales. The activity index is expected to jump 1.6 percent on month after dipping 1.1 percent in February. Nationwide store sales were up 25.4 percent on year in March, while sales in the Tokyo region were up 25.5 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in the mid-101 yen range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 101.55 to the U.S. dollar, against Monday's close of 101.42 yen per dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong is trading notably higher, while Shanghai and Taiwan are up marginally. New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan are notably lower, while Malaysia as well as Singapore are flat.
On Wall Street, stocks ended modestly higher on Monday. However, trading activity was somewhat subdued.
The major averages all closed higher, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq outperformed its counterparts. The Nasdaq jumped 35.2 points or 0.9 percent to 4,125.8, while the Dow edged up 20.6 points or 0.1 percent to 16,511.9 and the S&P 500 rose 7.2 points or 0.4 percent to 1,885.1.
Major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged down by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 index and the German DAX index both gained 0.3 percent.
U.S. crude oil ended higher on Monday, on worries over possible supply disruptions from Russia amid the escalating tensions in eastern Ukraine. Investors also mulled over the Libyan crude oil supply scenario after a deadly attack on the country's parliament amid fierce clashes.
Crude for June delivery ended up $0.59 or 0.6 percent at $102.61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while the most actively traded July contract closed up $0.53 or 0.5 percent at $102.11 a barrel.
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