RTTNews - Stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region have trimmed their losses on Tuesday after a weak morning session with investors picking up stocks at lower levels. While the Australian and the Indonesian markets have broken above the unchanged line, the rest of the markets in the region have recouped some of their early losses.

The Australian market declined sharply into the red after a positive start but has recovered its lost ground, with materials and energy stocks leading the charge. Consumer staples, industrials and telecommunications stocks are also seen edging higher. Financials have bounced back on support at lower levels. Utilities and healthcare issues are exhibiting weakness.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is currently trading 19 points up at 3,757. The All Ordinaries index is trading at 3,754, up 18.70 points over its previous close.

Rio Tinto has announced that it has reached an agreement with Japan's Nippon Steel Corporation on the price for Hamersley iron ore deliveries for the contract year commencing 1 April 2009. The stock of Rio Tinto is currently trading 1.2% up. Other key stocks from the materials space, Newcrest Mining and BHP Billiton are also trading firm.

Bank stocks ANZ Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation are trading modestly lower. Commonwealth Bank of Australia is down sharply in the red while National Bank of Australia is trading higher. Diversified financials stock Macquarie Group is trading sharply lower. Several stocks from the financials space saw a sell-off in the previous session after the regulator lifted a ban on short selling.

The Nikkei 225 average, which was down by around 80 points at the end of the morning session, is currently down by 86.80 points at 9,260.

Bank and automobile stocks saw some selling earlier in the day but are slowly inching their way up at present.

Exporters are trading firm in the Japanese market on weaker yen. Machinery, steel, real estate and insurance stocks are also seen edging higher.

Investors appear to be betting on hopes the worst of recession may soon be over after the Japanese government raised its assessment of the domestic economy for the first time in more than three years.

According to a report from the Finance Ministry, the balance of Japan's net external assets amounted to 225.51 trillion yen as of the end of 2008, down 9.9 percent from a year earlier, affected largely by the strengthening yen. It is the first time in three years that the balance has shrunk, but the level was still the second highest on record, following an all-time high of 250.22 trillion yen at the end of 2007, the ministry said.

Although the shrinkage was the largest since 1999, Japan has still managed to keep its position as the No. 1 net external asset holding country in the world for the 18th straight year if its balance is compared to the latest figures from other countries provided by the International Monetary Fund.

In the South Korean market, automobile, technology and bank stocks are under pressure. Key stocks from these sectors are trading sharply lower and this has not been a good outing for oil and energy stocks as well.

The KOSPI, which had surged to 1,409 in early trading today, is currently down by 16 points or 1.1% at 1385.

Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Shanghai and Singapore are trading modestly lower. The Hong Kong market is up with a modest gain. Indonesia, New Zealand and Taiwan are trading firm.

North Korea's nuclear test had sent stock prices tumbling in most of the Asian markets on Monday. However, almost all of them rebounded in late trading and significantly trimmed down their losses.

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