Asian Markets Mixed In Light Trading Day

Business

Asian stock markets are mixed in a light trading day on Tuesday as few major markets are closed, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, with technology leading on the way higher to mirror their peers on Nasdaq, which surged on news that Elon Musk had taken a big stake in Twitter. Energy stocks also gained amid the rebound in crude oil prices. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Monday.

Meanwhile, Traders also kept an eye on developments in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which continues to impact energy prices amid calls for new sanctions on Russia as well as concerns about inflation and the imminent monetary tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The Fed is seen as increasingly likely to raise interest rates by 50 basis points next month with the strongly monthly jobs report suggesting the economy remains on solid footing. The Fed is scheduled to release the minutes of its March meeting on Wednesday, potentially shedding additional light on the outlook for rates.

Western nations have called for new sanctions against Russia after Ukraine said Russian troops carried out a “massacre” in the town of Bucha, killing hundreds of civilians. Western nations have called for a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas.

U.S. President Joe Biden also called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he would seek more sanctions after reported atrocities in Ukraine.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Tuesday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,500 level, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, fueled largely by solid gains in technology stocks, which mirrored their peers on Nasdaq. Energy stocks also gained amid the rebound in crude oil prices.

Meanwhile, traders monitor the Reserve Bank of Australia’s meeting for any signs policy makers will start their tightening cycle next month rather than wait until June. The RBA hasn’t raised rates since November 2010.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 51.30 points or 0.68 percent to 7,565.00, after touching a high of 7,573.40 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 52.30 points or 0.67 percent to 7,871.20. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Monday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group and OZ Minerals are edging down 0.3 to 0.5 percent each, while Rio Tinto is slipping almost 1 percent. Mineral Resources is gaining more than 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is flat

Oil stocks are higher, with Beach energy and Santos gaining more than 1 percent each, while Woodside Petroleum is adding almost 1 percent and Origin Energy is advancing more than 2 percent.

Among tech stocks, Appen, Zip and WiseTech Global are gaining almost 3 percent each, while Block is soaring almost 7 percent and Xero is adding more than 3 percent.

Gold miners are mostly lower. Evolution Mining is down almost 2 percent, Resolute Mining is slipping almost 1 percent, Newcrest Mining is losing more than 1 percent, Gold Road Resources is sliding 1.5 percent and Northern Star Resources is declining more than 2 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are edging up 0.2 to 0.5 percent each.

In economic news, the services sector in Australia continued to expand in March, albeit at a slower rate, the latest survey from S&P Global revealed on Tuesday with a services PMI score of 55.6. That’s down from 57.4 in February, although it remains well above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also said its composite index fell to 55.1 in March from 56.6 in February.

The Reserve Bank of Australia will wrap up its monetary policy meeting on Tuesday and then announce its decision on interest rates. The RBA is widely expected to keep its benchmark lending rate steady at 0.1 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.754 on Tuesday.

The Japanese stock market is slightly lower in choppy session on Tuesday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 staying just above the 27,700 level, despite the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, as traders digest household spending and PMI data as well as remain worried about the economic impact of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,708.30, down 28.17 points or 0.10 percent, after touching a high of 27,965.94 and a low of 27,662.28 earlier. Japanese shares ended modestly higher on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing are gaining almost 2 percent each. Among automakers, Honda is edging down 0.4 percent and Toyota is flat.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging up 0.2 percen, Screen Holdings is adding almost 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is edging up 0.4 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 1 percent, while Mizuho Financial and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial are declining 1.5 percent each.

The major exporters are mostly higher, with Panasonic gaining almost 2 percent, while Canon and Sony are edging up 0.3 to 0.4 percent each. Mitsubishi Electric is losing almost 1 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Rakuten Group is gaining more than 5 percent.

Conversely, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha and Dai-ichi Life Holdings are losing almost 5 percent each, while T&D Holdings is down more than 4 percent. Sumitomo Pharma is slipping almost 4 percent, while Ricoh Co. and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines are sliding more than 3 percent. Shizuoka Bank, Tokio Marine, Astellas Pharma and MS&AD Insurance are declining almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, the average of household spending in Japan was up 1.1 percent on year in February, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Tuesday – coming in at 257,887 yen. That missed expectations for a gain of 2.7 percent and was down from the 6.9 percent increase in the previous month. On a monthly basis, household spending sank 2.8 percent – again missing forecasts for a decline of 1.5 percent after contracting 1.2 percent in January. The average of monthly income per household stood at 540,712 yen, down 0.1 percent from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the services sector in Japan continued to contract in March, albeit at a slower rate, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Tuesday, with a services PMI score of 49.4. That’s up from 44.2 in February, although it remains beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also said its composite index moved into expansion at 50.3 in March, up from 45.8 in February.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid-122 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand and Singapore are up 0.3 percent each, while South Korea and Malaysia are down 0.1 and 0.2 percent, respectively. Indonesia is relatively flat. Taiwan and China are closed for Qingming Festival and Hong Kong is closed on account of National day.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher over the course of the trading day on Monday, adding to the gains posted in the previous session. Tech stocks helped lead the advance, resulting in a standout gain by the Nasdaq.

The major averages all closed in positive, although the tech-heavy Nasdaq outperformed its counterparts. While the Nasdaq surged 271.05 points or 1.9 percent to 14,532.55, the S&P 500 advanced 36.78 points or 0.8 percent to 4,582.64 and the S&P 500 rose 103.61 points or 0.3 percent to 34,921.88.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures moved higher on Monday, rebounding from recent losses after U.S. President Joe Biden called for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin and said he would seek more sanctions after reported atrocities in Ukraine. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May ended higher by $4.01 or 4 percent at $103.28 a barrel.

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