Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are mixed on Tuesday, with investors turning cautious amid worries about the overnight surge in crude oil prices and its impact on the global economy as well as on geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

Investors also preferred to remain on the sidelines as the Federal Reserve is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy decision on Wednesday, with the central bank widely expected to cut interest rates by another 25 basis points.

The Australian market is declining following the overnight losses on Wall Street amid the more than 14 percent surge in crude oil prices and on worries about its impact on the global economy.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is declining 16.40 points or 0.25 percent to 6,657.10, after touching a low of 6,656.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 16.60 points or 0.24 percent to 6,765.40. Australian stocks closed roughly flat on Monday.

The major miners are weak after a drop in iron ore prices. BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals are declining more than 1 percent each.

New Hope Corp. reported a 41 percent surge in full-year profit on strong revenue growth and increased its final dividend. However, the coal miner’s shares are losing almost 2 percent.

The big four banks are modestly lower. ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac are lower in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent.

In the oil space, Woodside Petroleum is rising more than 1 percent, Santos is advancing almost 1 percent and Oil Search is higher by 0.3 percent, after crude oil prices surged more than 14 percent overnight.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is adding 0.4 percent and Evolution Mining is up 0.1 percent after safe-haven gold prices rose overnight.

CIMIC Group company CPB Contractors has won a A$463 million contract from the New South Wales Government to design and build a new Sydney Metro City station. However, shares of CIMIC Group are lower by more than 1 percent.

In economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia will today release the minutes from its September 3 meeting. At the meeting, the bank left its key interest rate unchanged at a record low of 1.00 percent for the second straight meeting as policymakers await to see the impact of earlier rate cuts.

Australia also will see second-quarter figures for house prices today.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Tuesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6864, compared to $0.6873 on Monday.

The Japanese market, which resumed trading after a long weekend, recovered after a weak start and is modestly higher, with oil stocks notably higher after the overnight surge in crude oil prices.

Investor sentiment was buoyed after U.S. President Donald Trump said he has notified Congress that the U.S. has reached initial trade agreements with Japan and these will be signed “in the coming weeks”.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 35.50 points or 0.16 percent to 22,023.79 after falling to a low of 21,878.63 in early trades. The Japanese market was closed on Monday for a holiday.

Among oil stocks, Japan Petroleum is gaining almost 11 percent and Inpex is gaining 10 percent after crude oil prices surged overnight.

The major exporters are mixed despite a weaker safe-haven yen. Mitsubishi Electric is advancing almost 1 percent and Sony is adding 0.6 percent while Canon is declining 0.2 percent and Panasonic is edging down 0.1 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 1 percent, while Tokyo Electron is edging down 0.1 percent. In the auto sector, Toyota Motor is higher by 0.5 percent, while Honda Motor is declining 0.2 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is losing more than 3 percent and Fast Retailing is lower by 0.5 percent.

Among the other major gainers, JGC Corp. is gaining more than 7 percent, Rakuten is higher by almost 6 percent and JXTG Holdings is rising more than 5 percent.

On the flip side, SoftBank Group is losing almost 4 percent, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is lower by more than 3 percent and DIC Corp. is down almost 3 percent.

On the economic front, Japan will see August figures for department store and condominium sales today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 108 yen-range on Tuesday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed moderately lower on Monday amid a spike by the price of crude oil, with Brent crude futures showing the biggest intraday jump on record after a coordinated drone attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry. Trump also tweeted the U.S. is “locked and loaded” to the respond to the attacks, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pointing the finger at Iran.

The Dow slid 142.70 points or 0.5 percent to 27,076.82, the Nasdaq fell 23.17 points or 0.3 percent to 8,153.54 and the S&P 500 dropped 9.43 points or 0.3 percent to 2,997.96.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on Monday. While the French CAC 40 Index slumped by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices flared up on Monday, hitting their best levels in four months, after the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities resulted in a loss of about 5 percent of global crude output. WTI crude for October ended up $8.05 or 14.7 percent at $62.90 a barrel.

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