Asian stock markets are mixed on Wednesday as optimism about corporate earnings results and China's stimulus plan were offset by speculation that the Bank of Japan may not make immediate changes to its monetary policy. Crude oil prices extended gains in Asian trades after rising overnight.
The Australian market slipped into negative territory after opening higher following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street. Gains by miners were more than offset by weakness in banking stocks.
In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 21.00 points or 0.34 percent to 6,244.80, after rising to a high of 6,277.30. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 16.80 points or 0.26 percent to 6,338.40.
The big four banks - ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac - are lower in a range of 0.6 percent to 1.0 percent.
Oil stocks are also mostly weak despite crude oil prices rising overnight. Santos is edging lower by less than 0.1 percent and Oil Search is down 0.2 percent, while Woodside Petroleum is rising 0.4 percent.
The major miners are higher. BHP Billiton is rising more than 2 percent, Rio Tinto is adding almost 2 percent, and Fortescue Metals is up almost 1 percent.
Gold miners are mixed after gold prices edged lower overnight. Evolution Mining is rising almost 2 percent, while Newcrest Mining is declining almost 1 percent.
Shares of Wattle Health Australia are gaining 9 percent after the infant formula company won regulatory approval to sell milk powder in China.
In economic news, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said that consumer prices in Australia were up 0.4 percent on quarter in the second three months of 2018. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.5 percent, but unchanged from the first-quarter reading.
Australia will also see June figures for skilled vacancies today.
The Japanese market is rising following the mostly positive cues from Wall Street amid optimism about corporate earnings results and on a slightly weaker yen.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 91.61 points or 0.41 percent to 22,602.09, off a high of 22,645.66 earlier.
The major exporters are higher on a weaker yen. Panasonic is adding 0.4 percent, Canon is higher by 0.7 percent, Sony is advancing more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is gaining 3 percent.
In the auto sector, Honda is advancing almost 1 percent and Toyota is edging up 0.1 percent. In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.1 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is higher by 0.6 percent.
Among oil stocks, Inpex is up 0.1 percent and Japan Petroleum is adding almost 1 percent after crude oil prices advanced almost 1 percent overnight.
Meanwhile, Yamato Holdings' shares are down more than 2 percent after the company said it overcharged corporate uses of its moving service by 1.7 billion yen over the 24 months through June.
Among the market's best performers, Toho Zinc is rising more than 4 percent and Sumitomo Metal Mining is gaining almost 4 percent. Mitsubishi Materials and Shin-Etsu Chemical are higher by more than 3 percent each.
On the flip side, Screen Holdings is losing more than 4 percent and Mitsubishi Motors is down almost 4 percent.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 111 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong are also higher, while Shanghai, South Korea, Indonesia and Taiwan are all lower.
On Wall Street, stocks closed mostly higher on Tuesday, although the Nasdaq gave ground to finish in the red. The early strength was the results of positive earnings news - particularly from Google parent Alphabet and drug giant Eli Lilly. Trading activity was somewhat subdued, however, with a lack of major U.S. economic data keeping traders on the sidelines.
The Dow added 197.65 points or 0.79 percent to 25,241.94, and the S&P 500 gained 13.42 points or 0.48 percent to 2,820.40, while the Nasdaq fell 1.10 points or 0.01 percent to 7,840.77.
The European markets ended solidly in positive territory on Tuesday. The DAX of Germany climbed 1.12 percent, the CAC of France rose 1.04 percent and the FTSE 100 of the U.K. gained 0.70 percent.
Crude oil futures ended higher on Tuesday, as concerns about possible supply shortage resurfaced due to rising tension between the U.S. and Iran. WTI crude for September delivery settled at $68.52 a barrel, gaining $0.63 or 0.9 percent, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.