Asian markets cautious ahead of major corporate earnings

TREC is similar to Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong and Singapore's Clarke Quay entertainment districts. Photo: Khalil Adis Consultancy.

Stocks were mixed in Asian trade on Tuesday as investors move cautiously ahead of a deluge of corporate results later in the week.

With all markets now open again after an extended Easter break, many fluctuated in morning trade but rallied by the afternoon.

Tokyo stocks ended marginally up for a third straight session, with profit-taking before 10 days of holidays in Japan weighing on the market.

Seoul, Sydney and Mumbai gained while Shanghai and Singapore were down. Hong Kong closed flat.

Investors are waiting for a number of major earnings releases expected this week, including Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil and auto maker Tesla.

“Some of the world’s biggest technology companies are reporting earnings this week as well as a raft of the big European banks,” Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities Australia, said in a note to clients.

“Investors will be hoping for some better-than-expected results from both groups to keep the topside momentum in global equities, however if the data starts to show a significant slowing across these key industries then expect both stocks and risk trades to start to come under some heavy pressure.”

Aerospace giant Boeing will report earnings on Wednesday for the first time since a deadly March 10 plane crash plunged the company into crisis mode.

Financial analysts have already slashed their 2019 profit forecasts after Boeing announced earlier in April it was cutting its monthly production of the 737 by about 20 percent.

In early morning trade in Europe, London climbed while Frankfurt and Paris fell slightly.

Separately, Sri Lankan stocks plunged by 2.6 percent — their biggest drop in four years — as the Colombo Stock Exchange reopened for trading after terror attacks on Easter Sunday killed more than 300 people.

– Oil prices climb –
While equity traders were generally cautious, oil prices continued their rally on Tuesday, jumping to near six-month highs after the US cracked down on Iranian oil exports.

The White House announced Monday it was calling an end to six-month waivers that had exempted countries from unilateral US sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

Starting in May, these countries — China, India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece — would face sanctions if they continue to buy oil from Iran.

“This points to a big drop in the supply side, which boosts the commodity’s price. Iran’s daily oil output amounts to 1.3 million barrels, according to latest figures in end March,” said Margaret Yang Yan, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.

But she said that “the sustainability of oil’s rally depends on Saudi and other OPEC members’ actions to increase oil supply in the month to come.”

Stephen Innes, head of trading and market strategy at SPI Asset Management, said rising prices meant $80 a barrel was now a “possibility”.

“Oil quickly repriced higher on fears that markets could face an immediate supply crunch, adding more pressure to the already tenuous global supply squeeze,” said Innes.

Energy and oil-linked shares also climbed, with Tokyo-listed crude developer Inpex rallying 2.8 percent and oil refiner JXTG up 1.1 percent.

– Key figures around 0820 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.2 percent at 22,259.74 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: FLAT at 29,963.24 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 3,198.59 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,484.38

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2995 from $1.2981 at 2050 GMT Monday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1253 from $1.1261

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.87 from 111.95

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP $1.70 at $65.70 per barrel

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 30 cents at $74.35 per barrel

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.18 percent at 26,511.05 (close)

— Bloomberg News contributed to this story —

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© Agence France-Presse

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