(RTTNews.com) - Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Tuesday as the fall in crude oil prices and the prospects of fresh elections in Italy offset optimism over a possible revival in diplomatic talks between the U.S. and North Korea. Some of the markets in Southeast Asia are closed on Tuesday for holidays. The U.S. stock markets were closed overnight for the Memorial Day holiday.
The Australian market is edging higher, tracking the fall in crude oil prices amid the absence of fresh cues as the U.S. and UK markets were closed overnight for public holidays. Banking stocks are among the leading gainers.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 3.90 points or 0.06 percent to 6,007.90, after touching a low of 5,995.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 2.90 points or 0.05 percent to 6,116.50.
The big four banks are advancing. ANZ Banking, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are higher in a range of 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.
Mining stocks are also mostly higher. BHP Billiton is adding 0.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is rising 0.7 percent, while Rio Tinto is down 0.3 percent.
In the oil sector, Oil Search is adding 1 percent and Woodside Petroleum is higher by almost 1 percent, while Santos is losing more than 1 percent after crude oil prices extended losses overnight.
Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is down 0.5 percent and Newcrest Mining is declining almost 1 percent after gold prices fell overnight on revived hopes of a U.S.-North Korea summit.
Retail Food Group said that Richard Hinson, who joined the embattled company in January to lead a strategic review, has been promoted to group chief executive, replacing Andre Nell. Shares of the company are rising more than 6 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar is weaker against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7551, down from US$0.7575 on Monday.
The Japanese market is declining, tracking the fall in crude oil prices and the prospects of fresh elections in Italy. In addition, a stronger yen weighed on exporters' shares. Overnight, the U.S. and UK markets were closed for public holidays.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 160.14 points or 0.71 percent to 22,320.95, off a low of 22,291.68 earlier.
Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric is declining 0.4 percent and Panasonic is down 0.5 percent, while Canon and Sony are edging up less than 0.1 percent each.
Automaker Toyota is declining almost 1 percent and Honda is lower by 0.2 percent.
Nissan Motor's shares are down 0.1 percent after the Nikkei business daily reported that the company plans to cut its North American production by up to 20 percent.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is declining more than 1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is down almost 1 percent.
Among oil stocks, Inpex is adding 0.2 percent, while Japan Petroleum Exploration is losing more than 3 percent after crude oil prices fell overnight.
Among the market's best performers, Tokai Carbon is gaining 7 percent, while NEC Corp. is rising almost 2 percent.
On the flip side, Nippon Paper Industries is declining more than 7 percent and Minebea Mitsumi is losing more than 5 percent. Ricoh Co. and Sumitomo Metal Mining are lower by more than 3 percent each.
In economic news, the Ministry of Communications and Internal Affairs said that the unemployment rate in Japan came in at a seasonally adjusted 2.5 percent in April. That was in line with expectations and unchanged from the March reading.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 109 yen-range on Tuesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also lower. The markets in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand are closed on Tuesday for Wesak Day.
The U.S. stock markets were closed on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.
European stocks rose modestly on Monday on revived hopes of a U.S.-North Korea summit and the prospects of fresh elections in Italy. The German DAX and France's CAC 40 rose around 0.2 percent each, while the U.K. market was closed for the spring bank holiday.
Crude oil prices fell on Monday, extending losses from Friday, amid renewed expectations that OPEC will ramp up production. WTI crude tumbled to near $66 a barrel from a four-year peak near $73.
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