Asian Markets Mostly Higher

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Thursday despite the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street, as investors looked ahead to the highly-anticipated meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G-20 summit in Japan later this week. Comments from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have generated optimism about a potential U.S.-China trade deal.

The Australian market is edging higher after a weak start. Gains by mining and oil stocks were almost offset by property trust stocks, as shares across the sector traded ex-dividend.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 3.40 points or 0.05 percent to 6,643.90, after touching a low of 6,606.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 5.00 points or 0.07 percent to 6,721.10. Australian stocks closed lower on Wednesday.

Among the major miners, Fortescue Metals is rising more than 2 percent, BHP Group is adding 0.6 percent and Rio Tinto is higher by 0.3 percent.

Dame Moya Greene said she has resigned from the Rio Tinto board with immediate effect after just nine months as the role was taking more of her time than she previously anticipated.

In the oil sector, Santos is higher by 0.6 percent, Oil Search is adding 0.2 percent and Woodside Petroleum is up 0.1 percent after crude oil prices gained overnight.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are edging higher in a range of 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent, while National Australia Bank is lower by 0.4 percent.

Bucking the trend, gold miners are weak after gold prices snapped a four-session winning streak overnight. Newcrest Mining is declining more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is down 0.7 percent.

Sonic Healthcare said it has sold its 85 percent stake in German lab tech firm GLP Systems to Abbott for about A$130 million and will use the proceeds to pay down debt as well as to make other acquisitions. The medical diagnostics company's are declining more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is edging higher against the U.S dollar on Thursday. The local currency was quoted at $0.6988, compared to $0.6975 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is rising despite the mixed cues from Wall Street, with a weaker yen lifting exporters' shares. Nevertheless, investors are cautious as they looked ahead to the Trump-Xi Jinping meeting at the G-20 summit later this week.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 73.98 points or 0.35 percent to 21,160.57, after touching a high of 21,177.98 earlier. Japanese shares fell on Wednesday.

The major exporters are mostly higher on a weaker yen. Mitsubishi Electric is rising more than 1 percent, Panasonic is advancing almost 1 percent and Canon is adding 0.3 percent, while Sony is edging down 0.1 percent.

Among tech stocks, Tokyo Electron is rising more than 3 percent and Advantest is higher by almost 2 percent, following their U.S. peers higher.

Shares of Japan Display are gaining 25 percent after the Japanese Asahi newspaper reported that tech giant Apple has decided to invest $100 million in the company, which is currently undergoing a major restructuring.

In the oil sector, Inpex is adding more than 1 percent and Japan Petroleum is up 0.3 percent after crude oil prices surged overnight.

Market heavyweight SoftBank is advancing almost 3 percent, while Fast Retailing is lower by almost 1 percent. In the auto space, Honda Motor is up more than 1 percent and Toyota Motor is rising 0.5 percent.

Among the major gainers, Sumco Corp. and Screen Holdings are rising more than 4 percent each, while Tokyo Electron, Yaskawa Electric and TDK Corp. are all higher by more than 3 percent each.

On the flip side, Chiyoda Corp. is losing more than 5 percent, Tokyo Dome is lower by almost 5 percent and Nippon Kayaku Co. is declining almost 4 percent.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that retail sales in Japan were up a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent on month in May, shy of expectations for a gain of 0.6 percent following the downwardly revised 0.1 percent drop in April.

In addition, the Bank of Japan will release first-quarter data for money flow.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the upper 107 yen range on Thursday.

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

On Wall Street, stocks closed mixed on Wednesday after seeing early strength as comments from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin generated optimism about a potential U.S.-China trade deal. Buying interest waned over the course of the morning, however, as traders seemed reluctant to make more significant news as they waited for more concrete developments out of the talks.

While the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 25.25 points or 0.3 percent to 7,909.97, the Dow edged down 11.40 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 26,536.82 and the S&P 500 closed lower for the fourth straight session, dipping 3.60 points or 0.1 percent to 2,913.78.

The major European markets also turned mixed over the course of the session on Wednesday. While the German DAX Index inched up by 0.1, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index edged down by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.3 percent.

Crude oil futures ended sharply higher on Wednesday, lifted by data showing a much bigger than expected fall in U.S. crude stockpiles in the week ended June 21. WTI crude for August delivery spiked $1.55 or 2.7 percent to close at $59.38 a barrel.
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