Singapore shares open up, Asia trades higher

Singapore shares open up, Asia trades higher

Asia markets traded higher on Tuesday, with Nikkei up 2 per cent, after US equities squeezed out gains overnight.

Singapore shares opened higher with The Straits Times Index up 4.3 points at 2,884.99, The Business Times reported.

Japan's Nikkei 225, which returned to trade after being off for a public holiday Monday, was up 2 per cent, despite having come under pressure in recent weeks due to the yen's strength against the dollar. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was up 0.13 per cent in early trade.

Down Under, the ASX 200 index gave up early gains to trade flat, with the financials and materials subindexes weighing, down 0.48 and 0.49 per cent, respectively.

Mining stocks were mixed, with major miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton up 0.32 per cent and down 1.13 per cent respectively. But iron ore producer Fortescue was up 0.73 per cent, following an overnight uptick in iron ore prices to US$58 (S$79) a tonne, from US$56.30 on Friday.

On the currency front, the Japanese yen retreated to the 112 handle against the dollar, with the dollar/yen pair trading up 0.19 per cent at 112.14 as of 8:12 a.m. HK/SIN time.

Major Japanese exporters received a boost Tuesday morning, with Toyota adding 3.24 per cent, Nissan up 3.35 per cent and Honda adding 2.94 per cent. A weaker yen is usually a positive for exporters as it improves their overseas profit numbers when converted to local currency.

The Australian dollar remained at the $0.75 level against the greenback, with the pair trading near flat at 0.7572.

In corporate news, Japan's Jiji News reported Monday that Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn would likely reduce its capital injection into troubled electronics maker Sharp by around 100 billion yen (S$1.2 billion), compared to its initial plan of injecting 489 billion yen, according to Reuters. Shares of Sharp were down 5.07 per cent.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei reported that airbag manufacturer Takata planned to sell Irvin Automotive Products, an American company that produces automotive interior materials, for tens of billions of yen to fund the recall of its defective air bags. Takata shares were up 1.52 per cent.

Oil prices advanced overnight, with Reuters reporting that data showed crude inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery hub for US futures fell for the first time since January. US crude futures for April delivery added 1.2 per cent to US$39.91 a barrel, before expiring as the front-month contract.

During Asian hours, US crude futures for May delivery, which becomes the front-month contract, was up 0.24 per cent at US$41.62 a barrel. Global benchmark Brent futures were up 0.19 per cent at US$41.62, after settling up 0.8 per cent.

Energy plays were mostly up, with Santos adding 0.51 per cent, Woodside Petroleum up 0.96 per cent and Japan's Inpex gaining 0.98 per cent. South Korea's S-Oil was, however, down 0.44 per cent.

Major US indexes advanced overnight, with the Dow Jones industrial average adding 0.12 per cent, S&P 500 higher by 0.1 per cent and Nasdaq composite gaining 0.28 per cent.

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