Asia markets rise in early trade as investors await key speech from Trump

Asian markets were mostly higher in late-morning trade on Tuesday, tracking U.S. gains, as investors await a key speech from President Donald Trump.

The Nikkei 225 in Japan was up 0.70 percent, while the Topix index added 0.89 percent. Most exporters advanced on the back of a relatively weaker yen, which traded at 112.63 to the dollar at 11:37 a.m. HK/SIN, retreating from levels below 112.20 in the previous session.

Toyota shares were up 0.28 percent, Nissan up 0.95 percent and Honda advanced 0.89 percent, while Sony added 1.65 percent.

Takata shares climbed 0.18 percent, after the troubled air bag maker formally pleaded guilty to fraud Monday and agreed to pay a $1 billion penalty for concealing a deadly defect in millions of its air bags.

Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi traded up 0.30 percent. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was near flat at 23,912.54.

Chinese mainland markets were mostly positive, with the Shanghai composite up 0.28 percent and the Shenzhen composite added 0.44 percent.

Australia’s ASX 200 was up 0.37 percent in afternoon trade, with the energy sector gaining 1.92 percent as oil advanced Tuesday.

U.S. crude was up 0.2 percent at $54.16 a barrel at 11:39 a.m. HK/SIN, while global benchmark Brent gained 0.3 percent to $56.10.

Energy names in Australia traded higher. Santos shares were up 1.87 percent, Oil Search gained 0.71 percent and Woodside Petroleum was up 0.73 percent.

Trump is set to speak at a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, where investors hope for more details on the administration’s plans for tax reform and deregulation.

“It’s frankly very difficult to know what markets expect from the joint session address, but expectations of an address with some reassuring and guiding details of the fiscal stance, from tax policies, and infrastructure might have been an ambitious hope,” said David de Garis, a director at the National Australia Bank.

Some market commentators said Trump preempted his speech to Congress by announcing part of his schemes.

White House budget officials told reporters Monday that Trump’s first budget will call for $54 billion-increase in defence spending and a corresponding cut in what his administration deems lower priority programs.

“Investors were initially disappointed by the delay of the tax plan but looked past that by the end of the day,” said Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management. She added the dollar continued to struggle and traded lower or held steady against most of the major currencies.

The dollar index traded fractionally higher at 101.15 at 11:41 a.m. HK/SIN on Tuesday. The Australian dollar was at $0.7682, while the euro fetched $1.0588 and the British pound traded at $1.2429.

On the data front, India is set to release its October-December quarter GDP figures later in the day, which could see the country lose its title as the world’s fastest expanding major economy.

Economists expect a sizable drop in growth for the quarter due to a demonetisation-led cash crunch that hit the cash-heavy economy.

Source: CNBC

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