Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trades

Asian stock markets are mixed on Wednesday amid cautious trades following the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street as investors awaited new developments on the U.S.-China trade front.

China is reportedly continuing to press the U.S. to remove tariffs on about $125 billion worth of Chinese goods imposed in September. Meanwhile, concerns about the outlook for interest rates also weighed on investor sentiment following the release of upbeat U.S. economic data.

The Australian market is edging higher following the mixed cues from Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 6.40 points or 0.10 percent to 6,703.50, after touching a high of 6,715.20 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 5.20 points or 0.08 percent to 6,816.80. Australian stocks closed slightly higher on Tuesday.

Oil stocks are higher after crude oil prices rose overnight. Oil Search is rising more than 1 percent, Santos is up 0.6 percent and Woodside Petroleum is adding 0.5 percent.

In the banking space, ANZ Banking, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Banking are up in a range of 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent. National Australia Bank is unchanged.

The major miners are mostly higher. BHP Billiton is advancing more than 1 percent and Rio Tinto is adding 0.3 percent, while Fortescue Metals is lower by more than 1 percent.

Among gold miners, Evolution Mining is losing almost 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 3 percent after safe-haven gold prices closed lower for a second straight session overnight.

Boral said its first-quarter earnings declined across all three of its divisions and reiterated its outlook for full-year profit to decrease between 5 percent and 15 percent. The building material maker's shares are losing almost 3 percent.

Bubs Australia said it has signed a deal with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to ship goat milk powder into China. The company's shares are rising almost 3 percent.

Medibank said claims grew more than expected in the full year 2019 and will continue to rise through fiscal 2020, reflecting higher private hospital payments and prosthesis costs. The private health insurer's shares are losing more than 8 percent.

Coles Group said it has launched a subscription service offering customers' unlimited home deliveries. The supermarket giant's shares are adding 0.2 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6892, down from $0.6905 on Tuesday.

The Japanese market is modestly higher following the mixed cues from Wall Street. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 33.96 points or 0.15 percent to 23,285.95, after rising to a high of 23,352.56 in early trades.

The major exporters are mostly on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is up 0.2 percent, Canon is adding 0.5 percent and Panasonic is rising 0.6 percent, while Sony is down 0.5 percent.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is lower by 0.2 percent, while Fast Retailing is adding 0.5 percent.

Among auto stocks, Toyota Motor is up 0.2 percent and Honda Motor is adding 0.3 percent. In the tech space, Advantest is rising more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is higher by 0.2 percent.

In the oil sector, Japan Petroleum is declining 0.2 percent, while Inpex is higher by 0.6 percent after crude oil prices extended gains overnight.

Among the major gainers, Nichirei Corp. and Maruha Nichiro Corp. are gaining more than 5 percent each, while Oji Holdings is advancing more than 4 percent.

On the flip side, Asahi Group is losing more than 6 percent, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone is lower by 5 percent, and Z Holdings is declining almost 5 percent.

In economic news, the Bank of Japan will on Wednesday release the minutes from its September 19 monetary policy meeting. At the meeting, the Policy Board of the BoJ voted 7-2 to maintain the interest rate at -0.1 percent on current accounts that financial institutions maintain at the bank.

Japan also will see final October numbers for the services and composite PMIs from Jibun Bank today.

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

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Tuesday after seeing early strength amid continued optimism that U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will sign phase one of an agreement sometime this month. As part of the deal, the U.S. is likely to scrap tariffs on about $156 billion worth of Chinese imports currently set to take effect on December 15. Buying interest was somewhat subdued, however, as traders wait for more concrete developments before continuing to buy stocks following the recent run to record highs.

While the S&P 500 edged down 3.65 points or 0.1 percent at 3,074.62, the Dow ticked up 30.52 points or 0.1 percent to 27,492.63 and the Nasdaq inched up 1.48 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 8,434.68.

The major European markets showed modest moves to the upside on Tuesday. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices extended recent gains on Tuesday amid continued optimism about the outlook for global demand. WTI crude for December delivery advanced $0.69 or 1.2 percent to $57.23 a barrel.

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