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Asian Markets Mostly Lower

Asian stock markets are mostly lower on Tuesday, following the mixed cues from European markets overnight, as traders react to China holding steady key interest rate as expected as the nation continues to grapple with a sluggish economic recovery. The lack of major stimulus measures in China is weighing on the markets. Asian markets closed mixed on Monday.

The Australian stock market is modestly lower on Tuesday, giving up some the gains in the previous three sessions, following the mixed cues from European markets overnight. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 is staying below the 7,700 level, with weakness in iron ore miners and energy stocks amid tumbling commodity prices.

Traders also cautiously awaited the latest Reserve Bank of Australia’s monetary policy meeting minutes for clues on the path for domestic interest rates.

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The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 22.60 points or 0.30 percent to 7,642.50, after hitting a low of 7,633.80 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 18.70 points or 0.24 percent to 7,894.60. Australian stocks closed slightly higher on Monday.

Among the major miners, Rio Tinto and Mineral Resources are losing more than 1 percent each, while BHP Group is edging down 0.4 percent. Fortescue Metals is flat.

Oil stocks are mostly lower. Santos is edging down 0.4 percent, Origin Energy is losing almost 1 percent, Beach energy is declining almost 3 percent and Woodside Energy is slipping almost 2 percent.

Among tech stocks, WiseTech Global is gaining more than 1 percent and Appen is surging more than 11 percent. Zip is down almost 3 percent, while Afterpay owner Block and Xero are declining more than 1 percent each.

Gold miners are mixed. Evolution Mining and Gold Road Resources are edging down 0.2 to 0.4 percent each, while Newmont is edging up 0.2 percent and Northern Star resources is gaining almost 1 percent. Resolute Mining is flat.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank is edging down 0.4 percent and ANZ Banking is declining almost 4 percent, while National Australia Bank is edging up 0.4 percent and Westpac is gaining more than 2 percent.

In other news, shares in Star Entertainment are plummeting 22 percent on news that it is on the verge of losing a lucrative licence to operate one of two Sydney casinos.

Shares in Sims are plunging more than 8 percent after the metal recycling company reported that its statutory net profit after tax slumped in the first half of 2024.

Shares in Suncorp Group jumped 6 percent after the Australian Competition Tribunal allowed ANZ to takeover its banking arm in a $4.9 billion deal.

Shares in Baby Bunting are plunging 11 percent as first net profit remained flat in the first half and sales dipped.

In economic news, the Reserve Bank of Australia will on Tuesday release the minutes from its Feb. 6 monetary policy meeting. At the meeting, the RBA decided to keep its benchmark rate unchanged at 4.35 percent.

The RBA board also maintained the interest rate paid on exchange settlement balances at 4.25 percent. The RBA has increased its cash rate target by 425 basis points since May last year. The current 4.35 percent is the highest since late 2011.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.652 on Tuesday.

Recouping some of the losses in the previous two sessions, the Japanese stock market is slightly higher on Tuesday, with the Nikkei 225 staying well below the 38,500 level, following the mixed cues from European markets overnight, with weakness in financial stocks partially offset by gains in exporters and technology stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 38,438.64, down 31.74 points or 0.08 percent, after touching a high of 38,742.33 earlier. Japanese shares ended slightly lower on Monday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 1 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is edging up 0.4 percent. Among automakers, Honda is edging up 0.3 percent, while Toyota is edging down 0.4 percent.

In the tech space, Advantest is edging down 0.5 percent, while Tokyo Electron is gaining more than 1 percent and Screen Holdings is advancing almost 4 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is losing almost 1 percent, Mizuho Financial is down more than 1 percent and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is edging down 0.2 percent.

The major exporters are mostly higher. Panasonic is edging up 0.5 percent, while Mitsubishi Electric and Canon are gaining almost 1 percent each. Sony is edging down 0.2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Omron is gaining almost 4 percent, while Shiseido and East Japan Railway SMC, Fanuc, Amada, Alps Alpine, Toho, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ajinomoto, Trend Micro, Nichirei, Yaskawa Electric are advancing almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Rakuten Group is losing more than 5 percent and Oriental Land is declining almost 3 percent.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 150 yen-range on Tuesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand and South Korea are down 1.1 and 0.9 percent, respectively. China, Hong Kong and Singapore are lower by between 0.1 and 0.3 percent each. Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.3 and 0.6 percent each

On Wall Street, the markets were closed for Washington’s Birthday on Monday after closing lower on Friday.

The major European markets were mixed on the day. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index remained flat and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index edged up 0.2 percent.,

Crude oil prices slipped on Monday as demand concerns triggered by the recent spike in producer price inflation in the U.S. weighed on market sentiment. West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil Futures for April settlement also declined 0.27 percent from the previous close of $78.46 to trade at $78.25. Prices ranged between a high of $78.46 and a low of $77.64.

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