Asia shares mixed, with Nikkei up 0.2 per cent

Asia shares mixed, with Nikkei up 0.2 per cent

Asia markets traded mixed Wednesday morning, with the Nikkei advancing despite a weaker finish on Wall Street overnight after a terrorist attack in Belgium shook confidence.

The Japanese benchmark index was up 0.18 per cent after finishing nearly 2 per cent higher Tuesday. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was flat.

Australia's ASX 200 index was down 0.53 per cent, weighed by losses in the financials and energy subindexes, down 0.54 and 0.89 per cent respectively.

Mining stocks Down Under were mixed, with Rio Tinto reversing early losses to trade flat and BHP Billiton losing 1.03 per cent. Fortescue shares were lower by 0.91 per cent. Base metal prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) were mixed, with three-month copper flat, while three-month aluminium was down 0.76 per cent. Iron ore prices were a touch lower at $57.90 a tonne from $58 on Monday.

Oil prices were mixed overnight, with global benchmark Brent crude finishing up 25 cents at $41.79 a barrel. US crude futures were lower by 7 cents at $41.45. Reuters reported the American Petroleum Institute said in a report that US crude stockpiles rose almost 9 million barrels last week to reach nearly 532 million. In the currency market, the Australian dollar was nearly flat at $0.7614 as of 8:20 a.m. HK/SIN time after climbing over the $0.76 level late Tuesday as Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens suggested further easing may not be on the cards in the near term.

The Japanese yen remained at 112 handle, after falling to the 111 level last week. The dollar/yen pair traded at 112.31 Wednesday morning local time. Major exporters were mixed, with Toyota adding 0.54 per cent, Nissan up 0.18 per cent and Honda down 0.1 per cent.

Global security concerns remain, after a series of deadly explosions rocked Belgium's capital on Tuesday, which initially sent equities lower before recovering slightly.

Major indexes in the US closed mixed, with the Dow Jones industrial average down 0.23 per cent, the S&P 500 lower by 0.09 per cent and the Nasdaq composite up 0.27 per cent.

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