The major markets across the Asia-Pacific region are trading higher on Tuesday morning, taking cues from Wall Street, after the Obama Administration unveiled plans to help banks sell toxic assets through the Public-Private Investment Program and pave way for a revival in credit flow, which is critical for reviving the economy.
The major indices in the U.S markets registered their biggest single-day rally since late October 2008. The Dow closed up 497 points or 6.84% at 7,776, the Nasdaq gained 99 points or 6.76% to 1,556, and the S&P 500 advanced 54 points or 7.08% to finish at 823.
Crude oil is currently trading at $53.66 a barrel, down $0.14 in electronic trading. On Monday, crude oil ended higher by $1.73 at $53.80 a barrel on New York Mercantile Exchange after hitting an intra-day low of $51.62 and a high of $54.05.
In Tokyo, the stock markets are trading higher on positive Wall Street cues. The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is up 170.35 points, or 2.07% at 8,386, and the broader Topix Index of all First Section issues is gaining 14.74 points to 806.
On the economic front on Tuesday, minutes from the Bank of Japan's monetary policy meeting held on February 18 and 19 revealed that board members suggested that the Japanese economy may begin to recover from the current recession in the second half of this year at the earliest. At the meeting, the board voted unanimously to keep the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.10%. The board also decided to expand special funds-supplying operations in order to facilitate a fall in longer-term interest rates that are actually applicable to fund-raising by firms and relieve them from funding concerns.
Banking stocks are advancing on hopes of stabilization in the U.S. financial system following the Obama administration's new plan. Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan's biggest bank, is gaining 3.91%, Sumitomo Mitsui is rising 3.95% and Mizuho Financial is advancing 4.55%. Resona Holdings is adding 0.64%.
Exporters are also advancing on the back of a weaker yen. Canon is adding 4.17%, Sharp is up 1.85% and Sony is advancing 3.95%. Automaker Toyota is gaining 3.61% and Honda is moving up 2.42%.
Oil-related stocks are trading mixed. Inpex is edging up 0.14%, and Nippon Oil is gaining 2.95%. However, Showa Shell is down 1.14%.
Among trading houses, Mitsubishi Corp. is gaining 4.08%, Itochu is up 3.09% and Sumitomo Corp. is rising 1.67%.
Nippon Steel is advancing 3.35% following reports that the company and other Japanese steel makers sealed an agreement to fix a year-on-year discount of around 57% on coking coal contracts with BHP Billiton for fiscal year 2009.
In Sydney, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index is gaining 36.4 points to 3,587, and the broader All Ordinaries index is advancing 39 points to 3,522.
Financial stocks are advancing on expectations of stability in the global banking sector. Commonwealth Bank of Australia is adding 0.23%, ANZ Banking Group is rising 2.16%, and National Australia Bank is gaining 0.45%. Westpac is advancing 0.69%, and investment bank Macquarie Group is surging 5.38%.
In the resources sector, index leader BHP Billiton is gaining 1.83%, and Rio Tinto is surging 4.77%. Among energy stocks, Woodside is adding 3.84%, Santos is rising 3.26%, and Oil Search is gaining 4.46%.
Gold miners are trading down after gold closed marginally lower for a second straight session on Monday. Lihir Gold is falling 2.65%, Sino Gold is dropping 0.18%, and Newcrest Mining is losing 2.26%.
Debt-laden miner Oz Minerals Ltd is falling more than 12% after the government extended its review into a A$1.8 billion rescue bid by Chinese state-owned Minmetals.
In the retail sector, David Jones is gaining 2.08%, and Coles' owner Wesfarmers is adding 1.24%, while Woolworths is losing 1.39%.
In South Korea, The benchmark KOSPI Index opened higher at 1,226, compared to its previous of 1,199, and is currently trading at 1,208, up 0.87% or 8.47 points.
In an effort to revive the economy by boosting demand, the South Korean government approved an extra budget of 28.9 trillion Won, equivalent to $20.7 billion, earlier in the day.
In a meeting with the local business leaders and economic analysts, the Minister for Knowledge Economy stated that, based on the preliminary report from the Korea Customs Service, trade surplus for March is likely to reach $4.5 billion, due to a much sharper decline in imports than in exports during the first 20 days of the month. The data accentuates the weakness in the domestic economy.
Financials and large-cap blue-chip stocks are leading the gains in the market.
Among the financials, Woori Finance is advancing 5.35%, Shinhan Financial Group is gaining 4.18% and KB Financial Group, the holding firm of Kookmin bank, is moving up 4.48%.
Market heavyweight Samsung Electronics is adding 0.18%. Among technology stocks, Hynix Semiconductor is gaining 1.94%. LG Electronics is advancing 1.12%, and LG Display is adding 0.93%.
Shipbuilders are also advancing. Hyundai Heavy Industries is adding 0.25%, Samsung Heavy Industries is gaining 1.14%, and Daewoo Ship building is moving up 0.92%.
Oil-related stocks are gaining on higher crude oil prices. SK Holdings is advancing 1.92%, and S-Oil is edging up 0.17%.
The benchmark Hang Seng Index opened 325 points higher at 13,773, and has since then pared some of its gains and is currently trading at 13,570, up 0.91% or 122 points.
Financials and telecom stocks are the major gainers in early trading.
Among financials, HSBC Holdings is gaining more than 6.5%; BOC Hong Kong is advancing 2.51%, Bank of East Asia is moving up 1.09%, and Bank of China is rising 1.72%. However, Hang Seng Bank is decreasing 0.51%, giving away all of the gains in early trading. In the insurance space, Ping An Insurance is adding 1.90% and China Life is moving up 0.97% from previous close.
Telecom stocks are also advancing; Hutchison Whimpoa is gaining 2.37%, China Mobile is advancing 1.51%, and Tencent Holdings is adding 4.13%.
Among the other major stocks, Foxconn International Holdings is moving up by more than 8.5%,, while retailer Espirit Holdings is declining sharply by 6.35%
Resource stocks are trading mixed. While Aluminum Company of China, or Chalco, is down 2.34%. CNOOC and Petrochina are advancing 2.24% and 0.93% respectively.China-related stocks are trading weaker on profit taking. China Resources is down 1.32%, and China Overseas is losing 0.94%.
Weak sentiment is also visible among utility stocks. While HK Electric is down 2.12%, HK & China Gas is trading unchanged.
Among the other markets, China's Shanghai Composite Index is moving up 16.17 points, or 0.70% to 2,342, Singapore's Strait Times Index is gaining 27 points, or 1.63% to 1,691, Indonesia's Jakarta Composite Index is adding 16.02 points, or 1.04% to 1,422, and Taiwan's Weighted Index is trading at 5,241, up 115.73 points, or 2.26%.
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