(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are trading higher on Tuesday, tracking positive cues from Wall Street where the major averages extended recent gains and ended on a firm note overnight amid continued optimism about the U.S. economy.
In the Australian market, energy, healthcare, consumer discretionary and industrial stocks are among the prominent gainers. Financial stocks are also trading firm, while mining stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is up 31.7 points or 0.6 percent at 5,323.6. The broader All Ordinaries index is trading at 5,323.5, up 32 points or 0.6 percent from its previous close.
Among bank stocks, ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are up 0.5 to 0.8 percent. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is up 1.3 percent and Bank of Queensland is trading 0.3 percent up.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) and Newcrest Mining are trading modestly higher, while Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue Metals are trading slightly weak.
According to reports, Rio Tinto could dump its 19.1 percent stake in a proposed copper and gold mine in Alaska that has been opposed by the local community and several of Rio Tinto's shareholders.
In the energy sector, Origin Energy is up 1.8 percent, Caltex Australia is trading 3 percent up, Santos is up nearly a percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing 0.7 percent. Meanwhile, Oil Search is trading weak, losing about 0.4 percent.
Downer EDI is up nearly 3.5 percent. UGL, Beach Energy, Henderson Group, Seek, ALS, Monadelphous Group and Treasury Wine Estates are trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.
Mineral Resources, Toll Holdings, Flight Centre Travel Group, Myer Holdings, James Hardie Industries, Adelaide Brighton, WorleyParsons, Arrium and Leighton Holdings are up 1.5 to 2 percent.
Transurban Group shares are up 0.7 percent. The company is close to completing the purchase of A$475 million of debt held by Sydney's Cross City Tunnel. The 2.1 kilometre tunnel, which connects the west side of Sydney's CBD to Rushcutters Bay in the east, was placed in receivership in September in the wake of a legal dispute with the NSW government over stamp duty.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar opened slightly weak against the U.S. dollar. Around noon, the local unit was quoting at US$0.8919, down 0.2 percent from Monday's close of US$0.8942.
The Japanese market rallied, with the overnight strong close on Wall Street and a weaker yen triggering some hectic buying at several counters.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 index, which hit its best level since November 2007 as it advanced to 16,029.65, was up 124.8 points or 0.8 percent at 15,995.2 at the end of the morning session.
Mitsubishi Motors, up nearly 5 percent, was the top gainer in the Nikkei index. Alps Electric moved up 4.3 percent.
KDDI Corp., Tokyo Electron, Hino Motors, Fanuc Corp., Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, NKSJ Holdings, MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings, Mitsui OSK Lines, Fast Retailing, Dowa Holdings Co., Dainippon Screen Manufacturing, Toyo Seikan and Marui Group were up 2 to 4 percent at the break.
Bridgestone Corp., Citizen Holdings, Nippon Yusen KK, Konica Minolta, Ube Industries, Casio Computer, Trend Micro, Mitsui Mining & Smelting, Fujikura and Japan Steel Works also posted strong gains.
Meanwhile, Japan Tobacco, Tokyo Electric Power, Seven & I Holdings, Ajinomoto Co., Mitsui Chemicals, Tokyo Tatemono, Osaka Gas, Sharp Corp., Unitika, Nisshin Steel Holdings, Taiheiyo Cement, Nikon Corp., Kansai Electric Power and Sumco Corp. lost 1 to 3 percent.
In economic news, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has secured cabinet approval for a draft budget for the next fiscal year that aims to split the benefits of higher tax revenue between trimming fresh borrowing and stimulating the economy with record spending.
Out of a total spending of 95.88 trillion yen in 2014-2015, about one-third will be spent on social security while debt servicing costs will account for nearly one-quarter.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar traded in lower 104 yen-range in early deals in Tokyo. The yen is currently trading at 104.35 to the U.S. dollar.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New Zealand are trading notably higher. Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan are up with modest gains, while Indonesia is down marginally.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher on Monday, amid continued optimism about the outlook for the U.S. economy following upbeat remarks by the head of the International Monetary Fund. The gains lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 to new record highs, while the Nasdaq reached its best levels since 2000.
While the Nasdaq jumped 44.2 points or 1.1 percent to 4,148.9, the Dow rose 73.5 points or 0.5 percent to 16,294.6 and the S&P 500 climbed 9.7 points or 0.5 percent to 1,828.
Major European markets too ended on a firm note Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index jumped by 1.1 percent, the German DAX index climbed 0.9 percent and the French CAC 40 index surged up 0.5 percent.
U.S. crude ended lower on Monday, mostly on profit taking notwithstanding some upbeat U.S. gross domestic product data and an increase in the consumer sentiment index.
Crude for February delivery ended down $0.41 or 0.4 percent at $98.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching a high of $99.31 a barrel intraday.
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