Asian Markets Mostly Higher Amid Cautious Trades

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( – Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday as strong corporate earnings results and upbeat economic data boosted confidence in the strength of the global economy. In addition, higher commodity prices lifted resources stocks.

Nevertheless, investors are cautious ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision due later in the day. The Fed is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged, but investors will be paying close attention to the accompanying statement for clues regarding future rate hikes.

The Australian market is rising, extending gains from the previous session following the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and higher commodity prices.

In the mining space, BHP Billion and Rio Tinto are advancing more than 3 percent each, while Fortescue Metals is rising more than 5 percent after copper prices rose to their highest level in more than two years.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum are gaining more than 2 percent each, while Santos is rising more than 3 percent following the jump in crude oil prices.

Senex Energy reported a 37 percent fall in full-year revenue on lower sales volumes and weaker oil prices. However, the junior oil producer’s shares are gaining more than 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Westpac are higher in a range of 0.5 percent to 1.1 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miner Newcrest Mining is losing more than 2 percent and Evolution Mining is down more than 1 percent.

SkyCity Entertainment said it has written down the value of its Darwin casino by A$95 million. The casinos operator’s shares are losing more than 1 percent.

Sigma Healthcare said it will drop legal proceedings against My Chemist/Chemist Warehouse Group over an alleged breach of a supply agreement as the two parties agreed to enter formal negotiations to resolve their dispute. Shares of Sigma Healthcare are gaining more than 7 percent.

In economic news, consumer prices in Australia gained 0.2 percent on quarter in the second quarter of 2017, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said. That was shy of expectations for 0.4 percent and down from 0.5 percent in the three months prior.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is slightly lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7934, down from US$0.7936 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is advancing, with investor sentiment bolstered by the positive cues overnight from Wall Street and a weaker yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 134.44 points or 0.67 percent to 20,089.64, off a high of 20,116.00 earlier.

The major exporters are higher. Toshiba is adding more than 1 percent, Sony is up almost 1 percent, Panasonic is higher by 0.5 percent and Canon is adding 0.4 percent.

Among automakers, Toyota is rising more than 1 percent and Honda is adding almost 1 percent, while Mazda Motor and Mitsubishi Motors are rising more than 5 percent each. Mitsubishi Motors reported better-than-expected first quarter results on Tuesday.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are gaining more than 1 percent each.

In the oil space, Inpex is up almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is rising more than 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Mitsubishi Materials is higher by more than 4 percent and Hitachi Construction Machinery is up more than 3 percent. On the flip side, Showa Denko, Showa Shell Sekiyu and Kansai Electric Power are losing more than 1 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan said that producer prices in Japan were up 0.8 percent on year in June, unchanged and in line with expectations. On a monthly basis, producer prices fell 0.1 percent following the flat reading in May.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 111 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia are also higher, but with modest gains. South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan and Malaysia are slightly lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher on Tuesday, partly reflecting a positive reaction to the latest earnings news from Caterpillar and McDonald’s. Buying interest was also generated by a report from the Conference Board showing an unexpected improvement in consumer confidence in the month of July.

While the Nasdaq inched up 1.37 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 6,412.17, the Dow climbed 100.26 points or 0.5 percent to 21,613.43 and the S&P 500 rose 7.17 points or 0.3 percent to 2,477.08.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index rose by 0.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively.

Crude oil futures surged Tuesday to the highest in six months, as OPEC vowed to re-balance oil markets even if it takes supply quotas through 2018. WTI crude for September delivery spiked $1.55 or 3.3 percent to $47.89 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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