Asian stocks extend gains as inter-Korea talks begin; dollar falls

Asian markets clung to gains on Tuesday after a somewhat quiet session on Wall Street. Investors in the region also digested earnings guidance from tech heavyweight Samsung Electronics and kept an eye on ongoing inter-Korea talks.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.42 percent, but was off session highs seen earlier, as markets re-opened following a long weekend. The benchmark index rose to its highest levels in 26 years in the last trading session

Trading houses, automakers and technology names, which had begun in positive territory, traded mixed. Sony and SoftBank Group rose 1.99 percent and 0.22 percent, respectively.

Over in Seoul, the Kospi edged up by 0.17 percent as investors kept an eye on talks held between North and South Korea. The discussions, which are expected to focus on the upcoming Winter Olympics hosted by the South, come after missile launches by North Korea drew international concern last year.

“Keep an eye on the North and South Korean talks, but don’t get your hopes up too high on any concrete outcomes,” analysts from OCBC Treasury Research said in a morning note.

Shares of Samsung Electronics were lower by 1.88 percent after the company announced its fourth-quarter earnings guidance on Tuesday. The tech giant said it was estimating a record 15.1 trillion Korean won ($14.13 billion) in operating profit for the quarter. Still, that was a touch below the 15.9 trillion won forecast by Reuters. Other technology names were mixed. SK Hynix was lower by 0.26 percent and LG Electronics climbed 3.33 percent after its stock stumbled in the last session following a lower-than-expected fourth-quarter profit estimate.

Over in Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 was higher by 0.18 percent. The resource sector was among the best-performers in the morning, with major mining companies Rio Tinto and BHP rising 1.48 percent and 1.28 percent, respectively.

Greater China markets clung to gains in early trade. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 0.17 percent. On the mainland, the Shanghai Composite tacked on 0.07 percent and the Shenzhen Composite inched higher by 0.1 percent.

U.S. stocks closed mixed on Monday. With no major data released stateside overnight, investors there looked to quarterly earnings releases due at the end of the week.

Several major U.S. banks, including J.P. Morgan and Wells Fargo, are among the first names reporting on Friday and investors will be looking for signs about how changes in the taxcode will impact businesses.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged down 0.05 percent, or 12.87 points, to close at 25,283. Other indexes notched slight gains.

The euro nursed losses after slipping overnight. The common currency traded at $1.1972 at 10:06 a.m. HK/SIN after holding above the $1.20 handle in the first week of the year. The currency had touched its highest levels in almost four months last week.

On Tuesday, the dollar edged down to trade at 92.275, compared to a high of 92.396 seen in the last session, when it had touched a more than one-week high.

Against the yen, the dollar gave up earlier gains to trade at at 112.55. That was below Monday’s close of 113.06.

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma said he would think about listing the e-commerce giant in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported. Ma’s comments came after Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing said last month it would move forward on plans to allow companies from “emerging and innovative sectors” with dual share classes to list.

Toyota Motor on Monday announced plans to develop autonomous, electric vehicles that would be manufactured to meet the needs of companies in the ride-sharing and delivery sectors. Feasibility testing for the e-Palette Concept Vehicle will begin in the early 2020s, Toyota said in a statement.

Toyota shares was off by 0.73 percent. Other Japanese automakers were mixed: Nissan was up 0.57 percent and Honda declined 0.45 percent.

Source: CNBC

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