Asian markets wavered between losses and gains Tuesday, but closed broadly higher, as oil and gold prices gained. The U.S. dollar struggled to attract buyers due to signs of a weak earnings season for banks, which could expose yet more subprime losses and punish stocks worldwide.
The greenback's weakness and supply disruptions ahead of the U.S. summer gasoline season helped spur both U.S. and London Brent crude oil futures to new highs. Commodities were also getting a boost with soy and rice futures setting records. This lifted resource stocks across the region like Japan's Nippon Oil and Australia's Woodside Petroleum.
But fresh credit worries lingered after Wachovia, the No. 4 U.S. bank, posted a surprise first-quarter loss, prompting it to raise $7 billion of capital, slash its dividend and cut jobs. Further dampening sentiment, Goldman Sachs said in a note that the quarterly U.S. earnings season, which is just starting, looks "awful" and is expected to send U.S. stocks lower in the weeks ahead.
Tokyo's Nikkei 225 Average closed 0.6 percent higher, with Tokyo Electron jumping on a brokerage upgrade, while resource-related shares such as trading house Mitsui & Co climbed after oil hit record highs. The market also got a lift from steel shares as Nippon Steel and JFE Holdings gained despite a newspaper report saying double-digit profit falls expected this year.