Asian Markets Mostly Higher

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Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday following the mostly positive cues overnight from Wall Street and as higher commodity prices lifted resources stocks.

Nevertheless, lingering worries about global trade wars and Italy's debt weighed on the markets. Italy's new leadership said they want to boost spending and cut taxes rather than pursue austerity in order to get the nation's debt under control.

The Australian market is advancing, reflecting gains in mining and oil stocks, while banking stocks are weak. Better-than-expected Australian GDP data also boosted sentiment.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 25.60 points or 0.43 pecent to 6,020.50, off a high of 6,025.60. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 24.10 points or 0.39 percent to 6,132.60.

In the banking space, Westpac, Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank are lower in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.8 percent.

Shares of ANZ Banking are down 0.2 percent after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or ACCC confirmed late Tuesday that ANZ Banking, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup have been charged with criminal cartel offences in relation to an August 2015 share placement.

The major miners are higher, aided by an increase in iron ore prices. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are rising more than 2 percent, while Fortescue Metals is adding more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are also advancing after an increase in gold prices. Evolution Mining is rising more than 1 percent and Newcrest Mining is adding almost 2 percent.

Oil stocks are mostly higher as crude oil prices rose more than 1 percent overnight. Woodside Petroleum is up more than 1 percent and Oil Search is higher by 0.4 percent, while Santos is down 0.3 percent.

Shares of Metcash are down 3 percent after the supermarkets supplier said it will record impairment charges of A$352 million following the decision of a South Australian supermarket customer to not renew its contract.

In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that Australia's gross domestic product was up a seasonally adjusted 1.0 percent on quarter in the first three months of 2018. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.8 percent following the 0.4 percent gain in the previous three months.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is almost unchanged against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local unit was trading at US$0.7633, compared to US$0.7638 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is edging higher after a weak start following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street and on a slightly weaker yen.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 23.52 points or 0.10 percent to 22,563.06, after touching a low of 22,498.59 in early trades.

Among the major exporters, Sony and Panasonic are higher by more than 1 percent each, while Mitsubishi Electric is declining more than 1 percent and Canon is down 0.3 percent.

Automaker Toyota is rising more than 1 percent and Honda is edging higher by less than 0.1 percent.

Shares of Subaru Corp. are down more than 1 percent after the automaker said Tuesday it has found new cases of product data fabrication, bring the total number of affected vehicles to 1,551 from the previously reported 903. Yasuyuki Yoshinaga will step down as president and CEO to take responsibility for the inspection scandal.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is lower by 0.7 percent while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is up 0.1 percent.

Sharp Corp. has agreed to acquire Toshiba's personal computer business for 4 billion yen, or $36 million. Shares of Sharp are advancing more than 1 percent, while Toshiba's shares are down 0.3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is adding 0.8 percent and Japan Petroleum is higher by more than 1 percent after crude oil prices rose overnight.

Among the market's best performers, Nippon Electric Glass is gaining more than 5 percent, Mitsui Mining & Smelting is higher by almost 4 percent and Toho Zinc is up 3 percent.

On the flip side, Tokai Carbon is losing almost 5 percent and Okuma Corp. is down more than 4 percent. Fanuc, Kyowa Hakko Kiron and Daikin Industries are all lower by more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, Japan will provide April numbers for labor and real cash earnings today.

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

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also higher, while Shanghai, Singapore and Indonesia are lower. The markets in South Korea are closed on Wednesday for the Memorial Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed in choppy trading on Tuesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq reaching another new record closing high. The lack of direction shown by stocks came as traders seemed to be expressing some uncertainty about the near-term outlook for the markets.

An upcoming G-7 summit in Canada as well as the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un next week also kept some traders on the sidelines.

While the Dow edged down 13.71 points or 0.1 percent to 24,799.98, the Nasdaq climbed 31.40 points or 0.4 percent to 7,637.86 and the S&P 500 inched up 1.93 points or 0.1 percent to 2,748.80.

The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.7 percent.

Crude oil futures rebounded Tuesday amid bargain hunting after steep recent losses. WTI crude added $0.77 or 1.2 percent to $65.52 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after hitting a 2-month low.