Asian Markets Higher Amid Cautious Trades

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(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are higher on Wednesday following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street. However, trading volume remained thin as several markets in the region remain closed for the Lunar New Year holidays. Investors also turned cautious as they digested details of U.S. President Donald Trump's second State of the Union address.

The Australian market is rising, extending gains from the previous session following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Mining stocks are higher, while banks and oil stocks are weak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 15.20 points or 0.25 percent to 6,021.10, off a high of 6,023.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is advancing 20.10 points or 0.33 percent to 6,088.20. Australian shares soared on Tuesday amid strong gains in the banking sector.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is up 0.4 percent, Rio Tinto is rising almost 1 percent and BHP Group is adding more than 1 percent.

Meanwhile, the big four banks are weak after strong gains in the previous session. Westpac, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 1.1 percent to 1.7 percent.

Commonwealth Bank reported a 2 percent decrease in first-half cash profit and also a nearly 2 percent decline in revenues. The bank's shares are declining more than 1 percent.

Oil stocks are also weak as crude oil prices extended losses overnight. Oil Search is edging down 0.1 percent, Santos is lower by 0.2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is declining 0.6 percent.

Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower. Newcrest Mining is advancing almost 1 percent, while Evolution Mining is declining more than 1 percent.

Insurance Australia Group reported a 9 percent decline in first-half profit and also cut its interim dividend. However, the insurer's shares are gaining more than 5 percent as its underlying earnings rose 16 percent.

Downer EDI has secured a A$900 million order from the NSW government for 17 more of its Waratah Series 2 trains. The engineering contractor's shares are rising almost 2 percent.

Shares of Virgin Australia are gaining more than 5 percent after the airline said it has named former Queensland Rail boss Paul Scurrah as its chief executive and managing director following an eight-month search.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7241, down from $0.7261 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is modestly higher, with the overnight gains on Wall Street and a weaker yen boosting sentiment.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 65.19 points or 0.31 percent to 20,909.64, after touching a high of 20,954.70 earlier. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Tuesday.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Panasonic is gaining almost 4 percent, Canon is rising 0.4 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is edging up 0.1 percent, while Sony is declining more than 4 percent.

In the tech sector, Advantest is adding 0.5 percent, while Tokyo Electron is down 0.3 percent. Among the major automakers, Toyota is edging up 0.1 percent, while Honda is losing 0.4 percent.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is up 0.1 percent, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is rising 0.4 percent. In the oil space, Japan Petroleum is declining 0.6 percent and Inpex is losing 0.5 percent after crude oil prices declined overnight.

Among the other major gainers, Yamaha Corp. is gaining more than 12 percent and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is rising more than 8 percent. Pacific Metals and Shiseido Co. are higher by more than 7 percent each.

On the flip side, NTT Data is losing more than 9 percent, while Dena Co. and Nichirei Corp. are lower by more than 5 percent each. Marui Group is declining more than 4 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 109 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Indonesia is also higher. Many markets in the region remained closed on Wednesday for the Lunar New Year holidays, including South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong. The New Zealand market is shut for Waitangi Day.

On Wall Street, stocks extended gains to close higher on Tuesday, partly attributed to news of a meeting between Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and President Donald Trump on Monday, which eased concerns about relations between the central bank chief and the president. Upbeat fourth-quarter results from Google parent Alphabet also boosted sentiment.

The Dow climbed 172.15 points or 0.7 percent to 25,411.52, the Nasdaq advanced 54.55 points or 0.7 percent to 7,402.08 and the S&P 500 rose 12.83 points or 0.5 percent to 2,737.70.

The major European markets moved sharply higher on Tuesday. While the U.K.'sFTSE 100 Index surged up by 2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index both jumped by 1.7 percent.

Crude oil futures drifted lower on Tuesday as concerns about energy demand resurfaced after data showed a drop in U.S. services sector activity. WTI crude for March ended down $0.90 or 1.7 percent at $53.66 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Read the original article on RTTNews (https://www.rttnews.com/2976493/asian-markets-higher-amid-cautious-trades.aspx)

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This article appears in: Stocks , World Markets , Insurance , Banking and Loans , US Markets , Oil

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