February 22, 2016 - 12:21 PM EST
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Asian Markets Exhibit Mixed Trend

CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Asian stock markets mostly opened higher on Tuesday, following the positive lead overnight from Wall Street as well as the surge in crude oil and other commodity prices. However, markets in the region are now exhibiting a mixed trend after some of the markets pared their early gains as crude oil prices slipped more than 1 percent in Asian trades.

The Australian market is advancing, with higher commodity prices boosting resources stocks. The overnight gains on Wall Street and European markets also lifted investor sentiment.

Mining stocks are advancing despite BHP Billiton, the world's largest miner, reporting a loss for the first half of the year and slashing its dividend. Shares of banks are also gaining.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is adding 24.80 points or 0.50 percent to 5,026.00, off a high of 5,035.60. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 23.20 points or 0.46 percent to 5,079.80.

In the mining sector, BHP Billiton reported a loss of $5.67 billion for the first half of the year and slashed its dividend. However, its shares are gaining almost 3 percent.

Rio Tinto is rising almost 2 percent and Fortescue Metals is adding more than 2 percent after iron ore prices rose overnight.

The big four banks - Westpac Banking, National Australia Bank, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking - are higher in a range of 0.2 percent to 1 percent.

Among oil stocks, Oil Search is adding 0.2 percent, Santos is rising more than 3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is advancing more than 1 percent following the surge in crude oil prices.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent and Evolution Mining is down 0.5 percent after gold prices dropped overnight as risk aversion waned.

Seven Group Holdings reported a 90 percent fall in its net profit for the first half and said it will buy back up to 16.6 million shares, including three million remaining in its current program. Shares of the conglomerate are gaining more than 6 percent.

Caltex Australia plans to spend A$270 million on buying back its shares after reporting a surge in first-half profit. However, the company's shares are declining more than 1 percent.

QBE Insurance Group reported a 7 percent decline in full-year profit, but its shares are rising more than 9 percent.

Qantas Airways said its profit for the first half of the year more than trebled from last year, aided by lower fuel prices, and announced a A$500 million share buyback. However, its shares are losing almost 3 percent.

Rail and ports operator Asciano said it has held preliminary talks with the Qube-led consortium to acquire the company for A$9.05 billion in cash. Shares of Asciano are up more than 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar touched a two-month high against the

dollar on Tuesday following a rebound in commodity prices. In early trades, the local unit was trading at US$0.7228, up from US$0.7174 on Monday.

The Japanese market opened higher with strong gains, following the positive lead from overnight from Wall Street and the surge in crude oil prices. However, the market pared its initial gains as a stronger yen weighed on exporters' shares.

In late-morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is adding 34.96 points or 0.22 percent to 16,146.01, off a high of 16,350.38 in early trades.

Exporters are mostly higher. Panasonic is gaining almost 5 percent, Canon is higher by 0.4 percent and Toshiba is advancing 1 percent. Sony is declining 0.3 percent.

Sharp Corp is gaining almost 3 percent after news that the electronics maker is likely to choose Taiwanese maker Foxconn Technology's takeover bid.

Automaker Toyota is adding 0.8 percent. Meanwhile, Suzuki is declining 0.8 percent after news that it was forced to halt production at two plants in

, its key market, due to riots.

In the banking space, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is adding 0.8 percent.

Among oil stocks, Inpex is rising more than 3 percent and refiner JX Holdings is up more than 1 percent.

The Nikkei business daily reported that JX Holdings' unit, JX Nippon Oil & Energy, will buy a nearly 10 percent stake in Vietnam National Petroleum Group for about 20 billion yen.

Trading house Sojitz will reportedly buy a 50 percent stake in

Keystone Holdings for 1.2 billion yen, with plans to strengthen Keystone's aircraft leasing business. Shares of Sojitz are adding almost 2 percent.

Takata Corp. is losing almost 3 percent after news that the

auto safety regulator is investigating all the company's airbag inflators with a chemical propellant banned from future models and also examining whether to expand a previous recall.

In the currency market, the

dollar traded in the mid 112 yen-level on Tuesday, down from Monday's close in the upper 112 yen-range in

Elsewhere in

South Korea
Hong Kong
are down with modest losses.
New Zealand
are marginally higher.

On Wall street, stocks closed sharply higher on Monday amid a sharp increase in the price of crude oil. Overall trading activity remained somewhat subdued, however, as some traders stayed on the sidelines amid a lack of major

economic data on the day.

The Dow jumped 228.67 points or 1.4 percent to 16,620.66, the Nasdaq soared 66.18 points or 1.5 percent to 4,570.61 and the S&P 500 surged up 27.72 points or 1.5 percent to 1,945.50.

The major European markets also showed strong moves to the upside on the day. While the

FTSE 100 Index surged up by 1.5 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index jumped by 1.8 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Crude oil for March delivery surged up $1.84 or 6.2 percent to close at $31.48 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The more actively traded April futures jumped $1.64 to $33.39 a barrel.

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Source: Equities.com News (February 22, 2016 - 12:21 PM EST)

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