Asian stock markets are higher on Wednesday, the last trading day of a brutal October, following the overnight gains on Wall Street in a late-stage rally. However, gains are modest in most markets as investors digested a raft of economic data and corporate earnings results. The Chinese market is higher despite the release of weaker than expected China manufacturing PMI data for the month of October.
The Australian market is modestly higher in choppy trade following the positive lead overnight from Wall Street. Gains are led by banking stocks after ANZ Banking kick-started the banking sector's earnings results today.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 10.60 points or 0.18 percent to 5,815.70, after rising to a high of 5,824.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 11.80 points or 0.20 percent to 5,899.70. Australian shares rallied to extend gains on Tuesday from the previous session.
Among the big four banks, Westpac is up 0.3 percent and National Australia Bank is adding almost 1 percent.
ANZ Banking reported a 5 percent decline in its full-year cash profit, its first since 2016, as it prepares for customer remediation costs in the aftermath of the royal commission. However, the bank's shares are rising almost 2 percent.
Commonwealth Bank's shares are rising more than 1 percent after the bank said it has agreed to sell its Colonial First State asset management business for A$4.13 billion to Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corp.
QBE Insurance announced a streamlining of its operations, with its Asia Pacific no longer a separate division, with effect from January 1, 2019. The company's shares are rising more than 1 percent.
In the mining space, BHP is declining more than 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are down almost 1 percent each.
Gold miners are extending losses after gold prices settled at a more than one-week low overnight. Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is down more than 1 percent.
Oil stocks are also mostly weak after crude oil prices settled at a two-month low overnight. Woodside Petroleum is rising more than 1 percent, while Santos is declining more than 1 percent and Oil Search is losing 0.7 percent.
Origin Energy reported a 12 percent increase in oil and gas revenue for the September quarter, while production remained steady. The company's shares are higher by more than 1 percent.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that consumer prices in Australia were up 0.4 percent on quarter in the third quarter of 2018. That was unchanged from the previous three months, although it was shy of expectations for a gain of 0.5 percent.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar gained ground against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.7106, up from $0.7093 on Tuesday.
The Japanese market is extending gains from the previous session, tracking the positive cues from Wall Street overnight and a weaker yen.
Investors are digesting a raft of local economic data as well as corporate earnings results and also awaiting the Bank of Japan's monetary policy decision due later in the day.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is rising 294.36 points or 1.37 percent to 21,751.65, after touching a high of 21,769.51 earlier. Japanese shares rose by the most in two-and-a-half months on Tuesday.
The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 3 percent, Sony is gaining 4 percent after reporting upbeat earnings results, while Panasonic is advancing 1 percent. Canon is losing more than 1 percent.
In the tech sector, Advantest is gaining almost 10 percent after reporting upbeat earnings results, while Tokyo Electron is rising more than 2 percent.
Among auto makers, Toyota is higher by almost 2 percent, while Honda is gaining almost 6 percent after reporting a 19 percent increase in first-half profit and raising its full-year outlook.
In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is advancing almost 2 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is adding more than 1 percent each.
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial said it will buy asset management operations from Australia's Commonwealth Bank in a deal worth about 300 billion yen, or $2.7 billion.
Tokio Marine Holdings said it plans to sell its core insurance subsidiaries in Europe to RenaissanceRe Holdings for an estimated $1.5 billion. Shares of Tokio Marine are adding more than 1 percent.
In the oil space, Inpex is lower by 0.3 percent, while Japan Petroleum is adding 0.2 percent after crude oil prices fell to a more than two-month low overnight.
Among the other major gainers, Kyowa Hakko Kirin is rising more than 9 percent, while Komatsu and Yaskawa Electric are gaining almost 5 percent each.
On the flip side, Chiyoda Corp. is falling almost 20 percent, JFE Holdings is losing almost 9 percent and Kobe Steel is lower by almost 7 percent.
On the economic front, the Bank of Japan is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate unchanged at -0.10 percent when it announces its monetary policy decision later today.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that industrial production in Japan was down a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent on month in September. That missed expectations for a decline of 0.3 percent following the 0.2 percent gain in August.
Japan also will see August numbers for vehicle production, September figures for housing starts and construction orders, and October results for consumer confidence today.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 113 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan is rising more than 2 percent and Shanghai is adding almost 1 percent. South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong are also higher.
On Wall Street, stocks closed significantly higher on Tuesday as traders once again looked to pick up stocks at reduced levels. President Donald Trump's prediction the U.S. will reach a "great deal" with China on trade offset some of the concerns, although he also warned of more tariffs if a deal is not possible. A report from the Conference Board showing a continued increase in consumer confidence in the month of September also generated buying interest.
The Dow soared 431.72 points or 1.8 percent to 24,874.64, the Nasdaq jumped 111.36 points or 1.6 percent to 7,161.65 and the S&P 500 surged up 41.38 points or 1.6 percent to 2,682.63.
Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index dipped by 0.2 percent and the German DAX Index fell by 0.4 percent.
Crude oil futures drifted lower and recorded their lowest settlement in over two months on Tuesday, as demand growth concerns continued to weigh on the commodity. WTI crude for December fell $0.86 or 1.3 percent to close at $66.18 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.