Asian stock markets are trading mostly higher on Wednesday, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, with traders remaining cautious ahead of the US Fed rate decision and accompanying statement later in the day. The central bank will likely slow the pace of its monetary policy tightening and raise interest rate by only 25 basis points to a range of 4.5 to 4.75 percent. Asian Markets closed mostly lower on Tuesday.
Recent data showing a slowdown in the pace of growth in US labor costs and a decline in consumer confidence helped raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will soften its aggressive approach in fighting inflation.
The focus will be on the accompanying statement and Fed Chief Jerome Powell’s comments for clarity about future rate hikes.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England are also scheduled to announce their rate decisions this week.
The Australian stock market is trading notably higher on Wednesday, recouping the losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving above the 7,500 level to fresh nine-month highs, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, with gains in mining and financial stocks partially offset by weakness in gold mining and energy stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 31.10 points or 0.42 percent to 7,507.80, after touching a high of 7,537.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 30.90 points or 0.40 percent to 7,717.00. Australian stocks ended slightly lower on Tuesday.
Among major miners, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is edging up 0.5 percent and Mineral Resources is adding more than 1 percent. OZ Minerals is flat.
Oil stocks are mostly lower. Woodside Energy and Santos are down almost 1 percent each, while Beach energy is losing almost 2 percent and Origin Energy is edging down 0.4 percent.
In the tech space, Afterpay owner Block and Xero are gaining almost 2 percent each, while Zip is adding more than 1 percent. WiseTech Global is down almost 1 percent and Appen is losing almost 2 percent.
Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are edging up 0.3 to 0.5 percent each, while ANZ Banking is gaining more than 1 percent.
Among gold miners, Newcrest Mining and Resolute Mining are losing more than 1 percent each, while Gold Road Resources is declining almost 3 percent, Evolution Mining is down more than 1 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging down 0.2 percent.
In other news, shares in Flight Centre are surging almost 9 percent on news that it is raising A$180 million in a bid to fund an acquisition of British travel business Scott Dunn for A$211 million.
In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia slipped into stagnation in January, the latest survey from Judo Bank revealed on Wednesday with a manufacturing PMI score of 50.0. That’s down from 59.2 in December and lands right on the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.704 on Wednesday.
The Japanese stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday, recouping the losses in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 staying below the 27,400 level, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight, with gains across most sectors, led by strong gains in technology and financial stocks.
The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,376.22, up 49.11 points or 0.18 percent, after touching a high of 27,547.67 earlier. Japanese stocks ended modestly lower on Tuesday.
Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining more than 1 percent and Toyota is adding almost 1 percent.
In the tech space, Screen Holdings is surging more than 5 percent, Advantest is advancing almost 5 percent and Tokyo Electron is gaining almost 2 percent.
In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is gaining almost 2 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding almost 1 percent and Mizuho Financial is edging up 0.5 percent.
Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are edging up 0.2 to 0.5 percent each, while Sony is gaining almost 1 percent. Panasonic is flat.
Among the other major gainers, Alps Alpine is surging almost 6 percent, while Tokyo Gas and Recruit Holdings are gaining almost 4 percent each. Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is adding more than 3 percent, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Rakuten Group and Mitsubishi Logistics are advancing almost 3 percent each.
Conversely, Toto and Seiko Epson are losing almost 5 percent each, while Sumitomo Pharma, OKUMA and Kansai Electric Power are down more than 3 percent each. East Japan Railway and West Japan Railway are declining almost 3 percent each.
In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Japan continued to contract in January, and at a steady pace, the latest survey from Jibun Bank revealed on Wednesday with a manufacturing PMI score of 48.9. That’s unchanged from the December reading and remains beneath the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction.
In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the 130 yen-range on Wednesday.
Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia are higher by between 0.5 and 0.9 percent each, while China, Hong Kong and Singapore are lower by between 0.1 and 0.4 percent each. Malaysia is closed for Federal Territory Day holiday.
On Wall Street, stocks climbed higher on Tuesday thanks to sustained buying across the board after a slightly cautious start. Investors picked up stocks right through the day’s session, digesting a slew of stronger than expected earnings updates and the latest batch of economic data.
The major averages all ended with strong gains. The Dow ended with a gain of 368.95 points or 1.09 percent at 34,086.04, the S&P 500 surged 58.83 points or 1.46 percent to 4,076.60 and the Nasdaq climbed 190.74 points or 1.67 percent to 11,584.55.
The major European markets also turned in a mixed performance on the day. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 drifted down 0.17 percent, while Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 both edged up slightly.
Crude oil futures moved higher on Tuesday on expectations the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates at a slower pace, so the greenback might strengthen less than expected. West Texas International Crude oil futures for March ended higher by $0.97 or 1.3 percent at $78.87 a barrel.
Source: Read Full Article