Asian Markets Mostly Higher


Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Tuesday following the overnight gains on Wall Street after Senators reached a deal to end a three-day U.S. government shutdown. Investors also awaited the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision due later in the day.

The Australian market is advancing following the overnight gains on Wall Street. Investors also digested mixed local corporate earnings results.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 40.40 points or 0.67 percent to 6,032.30, off a high of 6,037.50. The broader All Ordinaries Index is rising 40.90 points or 0.67 percent to 6,147.10.

The major miners are higher. Rio Tinto is advancing 0.7 percent, BHP Billiton is adding 0.2 percent and Fortescue Metals is up 0.1 percent.

Meanwhile, gold miners are mixed. Newcrest Mining is edging up less than 0.1 percent, while Evolution Mining is lower by 0.2 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are higher in a range of 0.7 percent to 1.4 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is rising 0.6 percent ahead of the announcement of its fourth-quarter results today, while Santos is adding 1.0 percent and Woodside Petroleum is gaining 1.6 percent after crude oil prices edged higher overnight.

QBE Insurance has projected a full-year loss of about $1.2 billion on one-time costs associated with the devastating wildfires in California as well as Hurricane Maria in the Caribbean. Shares of the insurance giant are losing more than 2 percent.

ResMed reported a 13 percent increase in sales revenues for the second quarter, boosted by demand for its new range of sleep apnoea masks. The medical device maker's shares are gaining more than 8 percent.

JB Hi-Fi's shares are advancing almost 2 percent after the electronics retailer was ranked by Deloitte among the top 250 retailers in the world on revenue for the first time.

Radio Rentals' parent company Thorn Group has agreed to pay A$6.1 million in remediation to customers and also faces a civil penalty of A$2 million over lending breaches. However, the consumer leasing company's shares are rising almost 4 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar regained the US$0.80 level on Tuesday. In early trades, the local unit was quoted at US$0.8009, up from US$0.7994 on Monday.

The Japanese market is rising, tracking a weaker yen and the positive cues overnight from Wall Street. Investors are looking ahead to the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision due later in the day.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 135.06 points or 0.57 percent to 23,951.39, off a high of 23,984.20 earlier.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is adding 0.6 percent and Sony is rising more than 1 percent, while Canon is edging down less than 0.1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is losing almost 1 percent. SoftBank Group is advancing almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding 0.3 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ is down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Toyota is rising 0.5 percent and Honda is advancing more than 1 percent.

In the oil space, Inpex is adding 0.7 percent and Japan Petroleum Exploration is adding almost 1 percent.

Among the market's best performers, Tokai Carbon and Pioneer Corp are rising more than 3 percent each, while Terumo Corp. and Shiseido Co. are adding almost 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Sumco Corp and Marubeni Corp. are losing more than 1 percent each.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan will wrap up its monetary policy meeting and then announce its decision on interest rates. The central bank is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.10 percent.

Japan will also see December numbers for department store sales today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 110 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Shanghai, Indonesia and Hong Kong are also higher, while New Zealand, Malaysia and Taiwan are modestly lower.

On Wall Street, stocks closed at new record closing highs on Monday. Traders did not show much of a response to the subsequent government shutdown but saw further upside amid signs that the shutdown will be resolved. The Senate voted 81 to 18 in favor of limiting debate on a short-term spending bill, which would fund the government through February 8th.

The Dow rose 142.88 points or 0.6 percent to 26,214.60, the Nasdaq jumped 71.65 points or 1 percent to 7,408.03 and the S&P 500 climbed 22.67 points or 0.8 percent to 2,823.97.

The major European markets ended mixed on Monday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices inched higher Monday after a top Saudi official said that OPEC should extend its supply quota plan beyond this year. February WTI oil gained $0.25 or 0.4 percent to end at $63.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.