Russia-Ukraine Peace Talks Boost Asian Markets

Asian stock markets are mostly higher on Wednesday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, extending the momentum with support from technology and financial stocks, as reports about encouraging progress in a cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey helped lift investor sentiment. Asian Markets closed mostly higher on Tuesday.

Reuters reports that Russia’s deputy defense minister has said that Russia has decided to drastically cut its military activity focused on Kyiv and Chernihiv. Ukrainian negotiators proposed adopting neutral status in exchange for security guarantees.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Wednesday, extending the gains in the previous six sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 moving above the 7,500 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders digest the pre-election Federal Budget. Reports about progress in cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey also helped lift investor sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is gaining 50.40 points or 0.68 percent to 7,514.70, after touching a high of 7,533.10 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is up 52.10 points or 0.67 percent to 7,799.10. Australian stocks ended notably higher on Tuesday.

Among major miners, OZ Minerals is edging up 0.2 percent, while BHP Group and Mineral Resources are edging down 0.1 to 0.4 percent each. Rio Tinto is flat. Fortescue Metals has gone into a trading pause, pending a further announcement.

Oil stocks are mixed. Origin Energy is adding more than 1 percent, while Santos and Beach energy are edging down 0.3 percent each. Woodside Petroleum is flat.

In the tech space, WiseTech Global is gaining almost 2 percent, Block is surging more than 6 percent, Appen is adding 1.5 percent, Zip is up more than 1 percent and Xero is advancing more than 4 percent.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank are adding almost 1 percent each, while ANZ Banking is edging up 0.4 percent.

Among gold miners, Gold Road Resources is losing more than 4 percent and Newcrest Mining is edging down 0.5 percent, while Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining are down more than 1 percent each. Resolute Mining is gaining 1.5 percent

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.751 on Wednesday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly lower on Wednesday, giving up the gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 falling below the 27,900 level, despite the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, amid concerns about the economic impact of the weaker yen combined with the effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the ongoing pandemic.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 27,893.92, down 358.50 points or 1.27 percent, after hitting a low of 27,888.99 earlier. Japanese stocks closed significantly higher on Tuesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining almost 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is declining almost 1 percent and Toyota is losing more than 1 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is edging down 0.3 percent, while Advantest is adding more than 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is down more than 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Mizuho Financial is losing more than 3 percent, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial is down 2.5 percent and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is declining almost 3 percent.

Among the major exporters, Mitsubishi Electric is losing more than 2 percent, Canon is edging down 0.5 percent and Panasonic is down more than 1 percent, while Sony is gaining almost 1 percent.

Among the other major losers, Nippon Yusen, Inpex, Nippon Telegraph & Telephone and Tokyo Gas are losing more than 3 percent each, while KDDI, Daiwa Securities, Nippon Steel, Nintendo, Maruha Nichiro, Nippon Suisan Kaisha, JGC Holdings and Idemitsu Kosan are all down almost 3 percent each.

ConverselyM3 and Shiseido are gaining more than 3 percent each, while Tokyo Electric Power is adding almost 3 percent.

In economic news, the total value of retail sales in Japan was down 0.8 percent on year in February, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Wednesday – coming in at 11.537 trillion yen. That missed expectations for a loss of 0.3 percent following the downwardly revised 1.1 percent increase in January (originally 1.6 percent). On a monthly basis, retail sales were again down 0.8 percent after slipping 0.9 percent in the previous month.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the higher 121 yen-range on Wednesday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Hong Kong is gaining 1.2 percent, while New Zealand, China, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.2 and 0.9 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks closed on a firm note on Tuesday with technology shares turning in another strong performance. Slightly easing concerns about inflation following a drop in crude oil prices and encouraging progress in the cease-fire talks between Russia and Ukraine in Turkey helped lift investor sentiment.

The major averages all ended with solid gains. The Dow closed with a gain of 338.30 points or 0.97 percent at 35,294.19. The S&P 500 closed higher by 56.08 points or 1.23 percent at 4,631.60, and the Nasdaq settled at 14,619.64 with a gain of 264.73 points or 1.84 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 advanced 0.86 percent, Germany’s DAX surged up 2.79 percent and France’s CAC 40 gained 3.08 percent.

Crude oil prices dropped on Tuesday amid easing worries about global crude supply after positive reports of the peace talks. West Texas Intermediate crude futures for May ended down by $1.72 or 1.6 percent at $104.24 a barrel.

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