Asian Markets Mostly Lower Amid Cautious Trade

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Tuesday amid cautious trading, as worries about rising coronavirus cases and extension of lockdown restrictions are weighing on the markets. The cues overnight from Wall Street were broadly positive. Asian stocks ended mixed in thin holiday trading on Monday.

The Australian stock market is significantly higher on Tuesday after the long Easter weekend, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 near the 6,900 level at six-week highs, supported by gains in materials, financials and technology stocks. Traders are also awaiting the RBA’s interest rate decision later in the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 63.20 points or 0.93 percent to 6,891.90, after touching a high of 6,915.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 74.10 points or 1.05 percent to 7,138.30. Australian markets were closed on Monday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto is adding more than 1 percent and BHP Group is gaining almost 2 percent, while Fortescue Metals and OZ Minerals are up more than 2 percent each.

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

Among the big four banks, Westpac, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are edging up 0.4 percent each, while Commonwealth Bank is also edging up 0.1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay is gaining almost 7 percent, Appen in edging up 0.5 percent and WiseTech Global is adding more than 4 percent.

Gold miners are higher, with Newcrest Mining up more than 1 percent, Northern Star Resources gaining almost 1 percent and Evolution Mining edging up 0.2 percent.

Shares in Cleanaway Waste Management are soaring more than 10 percent after that the waste management company announced a deal to buy the Australian recycling and recovery operations of its peer Suez R&R Australia for $2.52 billion.

Agri-chemical producer Incitec Pivot has delayed the resumption of the operations at its Waggaman ammonia plant in the US by a month to mid-April, due to urgent repairs. The company will take a $28 million hit to 2021 net profit due to the delay. The stock was down almost 9 percent.

Shares in Aroa Biosurgery are up more than 4 percent after the New Zealand-based biotech company received the US FDA’s approval for its Myriad Morcells, an innovative tissue regeneration product.

In economic news, 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 unchanged at the record low 0.10 percent.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.764 on Tuesday.

The Japanese stock market is lower after giving up early gains on Tuesday, with the benchmark Nikkei index just above the 29,800 level, as investors are digesting data that showed household spending plunging 6.6 percent on-year in February, the third consecutive monthly drop.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 29,863.10, down 226.15 points or 0.75 percent, after touching a high of 30,208.89 earlier. Japanese shares closed higher on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is edging down 0.2 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is down almost 2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is down more than 2 percent and Toyota is edging down 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging down 0.3 percent and Tokyo Electron is losing almost 2 percent. In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 2 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down more than 2 percent.

The major exporters are weak, with Panasonic losing almost 1 percent, Mitsubishi Electric edging down 0.5 percent and Sony down almost 2 percent, while Canon is edging up 0.4 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Toho is gaining almost 4 percent, while Kobe Steel and Ebara are rising more than 3 percent each. Matsui Securities is up almost 3 percent, while Taskawa Electric and Showa Denko are advancing more than 2 percent each.

Conversely, Suziki Motor is losing almost 5 percent and Hitachi Hosen is down more than 4 percent. Mitsubishi Motors and Shinsei Bank are declining more than 2 percent each.

In economic news, the average of household spending in Japan was down 6.6 percent on year in February, the Ministry of Communications and Internal Affairs said on Tuesday – coming in at 252,451 yen. That was the third consecutive monthly decline and missed expectations for a decline of 5.3 percent following the 6.1 percent annual decline in January. On a monthly basis, household spending was up 2.4 percent – again missing expectations for an increase of 2.8 percent following the 7.3 percent slide in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 110 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and China are losing between 0.1 and 0.6 percent. Meanwhile, Taiwan is up more than 1 percent and Indonesia is edging up 0.1 percent. Hong Kong is closed.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a significant move to the upside during trading on Monday as trading resumed following the long holiday weekend. With the upward move on the day, the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new record closing highs.

The major averages all closed firmly in positive territory. The Dow jumped 373.98 points or 1.1 percent to 33,527.19, the Nasdaq spiked 225.49 points or 1.7 percent to 13,705.59 and the S&P 500 surged up 58.04 points or 1.4 percent to 4,077.91.

Meanwhile, the major European markets were closed on the day in observance of Easter Monday.

Crude oil prices sank sharply Monday, weighed down by the decision from major oil producers to increase production beginning in May. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for May dropped $2.80 or 4.6 percent at $58.65 a barrel.

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