Asian Markets Mixed In Choppy Trading

Asian stock markets are mixed in choppy trading on Tuesday, following mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Markets are concerned that the passage of a fresh U.S. coronavirus relief package could cause inflation to soar. Investors are also worried that rising bond yields could hurt high-growth companies reliant on easy borrowing. Asian stocks also ended mostly lower in choppy trading on Monday.

The Australian stock market is higher on Tuesday, extending gains from the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 just below the 6,800 level, as a major survey showed that business confidence has rebounded to its highest level in a decade. Weakness among technology stocks were more than offset by gains in financial stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 25.40 points or 0.38 percent to 6,765.00, after rising to a high of 6,810.00 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 23.40 points or 0.34 percent to 6,995.00. Australian stocks closed off their day’s highs on Monday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent, Fortescue Metals is edging up 0.2 percent and BHP Group is edging up 0.3 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is losing more than 1 percent, Santos is edging down 0.5 percent and Woodside Petroleum is edging down 0.1 percent, while Origin Energy is edging up 0.1 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking is advancing almost 3 percent, while Westpac and National Australia Bank are adding more than 2 percent each. Commonwealth Bank is adding more than 1 percent.

Gold miners are down. Newcrest Mining is down almost 2 percent, Evolution Mining is losing more than 2 percent and Northern Star Resources is declining more than 4 percent.

Share in Australian wealth manager AMP Ltd are rising almost 4 percent after it decided to sell the global equities business of its asset management arm to Canadian investment manager Fiera Capital for an undisclosed sum.

In economic news, Australia’s business confidence index surged to 16 in February from an upwardly revised 12 a month earlier, survey data from National Australia Bank showed Tuesday. That’s the highest reading since early 2010 and well above the long-run average. The business conditions index also climbed to 15 from 9 in January and matching the December reading, which was the highest level since August 2018.

“Business conditions and confidence are both at multi-year highs and, importantly, we’re starting to see an uptrend in business hiring and investment,” said Alan Oster, NAB chief economist.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.765 on Tuesday.

The Japanese stock market is modestly higher in choppy trading on Tuesday after the benchmark Nikkei index treaded above the 29,900 level earlier, following the mixed cues overnight from Wall Street. Technology stocks are tracking overnight losses on Wall Street.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 28,800.81, up 57.56 points or 0.20 percent, after touching a high of 28,901.27 earlier. Japanese shares fell for a third consecutive session on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing more than 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is adding more than 3 percent and Toyota is gaining more than 2 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest and Tokyo Electron are losing almost 3 percent each. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining almost 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding more than 2 percent.

The major exporters mostly mixed, with Canon higher by almost 1 percent and Mitsubishi Electric adding almost 2 percent, while Panasonic is down almost 6 percent and Sony is losing nearly 3 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Takashimaya is rising more than 6 percent, while Mitsubishi Motors, Kansai Electric Power, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings are gaining more than 5 percent each. Sapporo Holdings, Concordia Financial and Nippon Steel are adding almost 5 percent each.

Conversely, Hitachi Zosen is losing almost 6 percent, and GS Yuasa is lower by more than 5 percent, while Nikon and Tokyo Electron are down more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the average of household spending in Japan was down 6.1 percent on year in January, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said on Tuesday, coming in at 267,760 yen. That missed expectations for a decline of 2.1 percent on year following the 0.6 percent contraction in December. The average of monthly income per household stood at 469,254 yen, down 2.5 percent on year.

Further, Japan’s gross domestic product was up an annualized 11.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, the Cabinet Office said on Tuesday. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 12.8 percent following the 22.9 percent surge in the three months prior.

On a quarterly basis, gross domestic product gained 2.8 percent – again missing forecasts for 3.0 percent and down from 5.3 percent in the previous three months. Capital expenditure was up 4.3 percent on quarter, beating forecasts for a gain of 4.1 percent following the 2.4 percent contraction in Q3.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks turned in a starkly mixed performance during trading on Monday, as the Dow jumped to a new record intraday high but the tech-heavy Nasdaq showed a sharp pullback. The S&P 500 spent much of the day in positive territory before closing in the red.

The Dow ended the session well of its best levels of the day but still closed up 306.14 points or 1 percent at 31,802.44. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq plunged 310.99 points or 2.4 percent to 12,609.16, its lowest closing level in almost three months, and the S&P 500 slid 20.59 points or 0.5 percent to 3,821.35.

Meanwhile, the major European markets showed strong moves to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index spiked by 3.3 percent, the French CAC 40 Index surged up by 2.1 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index jumped by 1.3 percent.

Crude oil shook off early support to finish sharply lower on Monday as profit taking erased early gains that followed reports of an attack on the world’s largest refinery in Saudi Arabia. West Texas Intermediate for April delivery slumped $1.04 or 1.57% to end at $65.05 a barrel.

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