Asian Markets Trade Mostly Higher

Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Wednesday, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, and as U.S. futures climbed after the Federal Reserve released its Beige Book, which said U.S. economic activity has expanded at a moderate pace since mid-February, boding well for the global economy. Asian Markets closed mixed on Tuesday.

The Beige Book also said U.S. consumer spending has accelerated among retail and non-financial service firms, as Covid-19 cases tapered across the country.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Thursday, extending the gains in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving above the 7,600 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, with gains in energy, gold mining and financial stocks, partially offset by weakness in technology stocks, which tracked their US peers lower.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 30.90 points or 0.41 percent to 7,600.10, after touching a high of 7,600.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 26.30 points or 0.33 percent to 7,895.90. Australian stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, OZ Minerals and Fortescue Metals are edging down 0.4 percent each, while Mineral Resources is gaining almost 1 percent. Rio Tinto is down more than 1 percent. BHP Group is losing more than 2 percent after reporting lower-than-expected Iron ore production in the March quarter.

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

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is losing more than 1 percent, Block is plunging almost 7 percent, Appen is down almost 1 percent and Xero is sliding almost 2 percent, while Zip is gaining almost 1 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Westpac is adding more than 1 percent.

Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining is gaining almost 1 percent and Gold Road Resources is adding almost 2 percent, while Resolute Mining and Northern Star Resources are up more than 1 percent each. Evolution Mining is losing almost 3 percent.

In other news, shares in Brambles are surging almost 7 percent as the company raised its annual profit and sales guidance after raising North American prices.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.743 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is sharply higher on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous two sessions, with the Nikkei 225 moving above the 27,500 level, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street, boosted by gains in chip-related technology stocks, despite the continued volatility and weakness of the Japanese yen.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,547.24, up 329.39 points or 1.21 percent, after touching a high of 27,571.12 earlier. Japanese stocks closed notably higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is losing almost 1 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is gaining almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda and Toyota are edging down 0.3 percent each.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron are gaining almost 3 percent each, while Advantest is adding almost 2 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is edging down 0.4 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial are edging up 0.4 percent each.

Among the major exporters, Sony is edging up 0.5 percent and Panasonic is up almost 2 percent, while Canon is declining more than 2 percent. Mitsubishi Electric is flat.

Among the other major gainers, Fujikura is gaining almost 6 percent, while Japan Steel Works and Sumitomo Pharma are up almost 4 percent each. GS Yuasa and Kao are adding more than 3 percent, while Terumo, Ebara, Kubota and Yamaha are advancing almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Credit Saison is losing more than 3 percent, while Pacific Metals is down almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the mid 128 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan are lower by between 0.2 and 0.6 percent each, while Hong Kong and China are down 0.6 percent each. New Zealand is relatively flat.

On Wall Street, stocks stock indexes turned in a starkly mixed performance during trading on Wednesday after moving sharply higher over the course of the previous session. While the Dow added to the strong gain posted on Tuesday, the tech-heavy Nasdaq pulled back sharply. The S&P 500 spent the day bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.

The major averages finished the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. The Dow climbed 249.59 points or 0.7 percent to 35,160.79, while the Nasdaq tumbled 166.59 points or 1.2 percent to 13,453.07 and the S&P 500 edged down 2.76 points or 0.1 percent to 4,459.45.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices inched higher Wednesday after data showed a drop in U.S. crude inventories last week. Concerns about supplies from Russia and disruptions in Libya also pushed oil prices higher. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for June rose $0.14 or 0.1 percent at $102.19 a barrel.

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