Asia Markets

Asian equities up as RBA, RBI stay away from rate cuts


Central banks are the key theme in Asia on Tuesday, with equities in the region largely in positive territory after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept interest rates on hold.

The RBA held borrowing costs steady at a record low of 2.25 percent after markets had priced in an 80 chance of a rate cut; the Indian central bank left its main repo rate at 7.5 percent after last month's surprise cut.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) kicks off its two-day monthly policy meeting today.

Wall Street set the buoyant mood with a higher finish as a disappointing jobs report renewed hopes of a delayed increase in interest rates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 closed up 0.7 percent, respectively, while the Nasdaq finished 0.6 percent higher.

ASX adds 0.5%

Following the monetary policy decision, Australia's index pulled back from a 10-day high attained in the morning session, while the Australian dollar surged over 1 percent to as high as $0.7701 from $0.7599 against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark index was in its first trading day since being shuttered on Good Friday.

Banks retreated immediately, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia dipping its toes into negative territory, slipping 0.2 percent. While National Australia Bank held on to a gain of 1.7 percent, Australia and New Zealand Banking and Westpac lessened gains to 0.6 percent each.

Meanwhile, junior miner Atlas Iron sought a trading halt on Tuesday as it considers possible asset sales and restructure amid slumping iron ore prices. "The cracks are starting to show as the strain from weaker iron ore prices proves unbearable for the smaller iron ore players. Atlas Iron's voluntary trading halt has left investors concerned that other similar players such as BC Iron and Mount Gibson which have also dropped in response," Stan Shamu, IG's market strategist, wrote in a note.

Energy and gold-related plays provided support on the back of higher gold and oil prices. Endeavor Mining and Evolution Mining bolstered over 3 percent each, while Santos and Oil Search surged 2.2 and 1.8 percent, respectively.

RBA stands pat on interest rates

Indian indexes down

While the central bank's decision to hold off a rate cut was largely expected, both the Nifty and BSE Sensex index fell into negative territory, pulling back from two-and-a-half-week highs attained in early trade.

The fell 0.2 percent in a knee-jerk reaction against the greenback.

Nikkei rises 1.3%

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index touched a near two-week high, drawing support from a positive U.S. lead, with energy and financial counters leading advances.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group advanced 3.1 and 1.3 percent, respectively, while Inpex and JX Holdings climbed more than 4 percent each.

Toshiba rose 1 percent, reversing a brief negative open, as markets monitored ts accounting probe. Loss-making electronics maker Sharp, which is reportedly planning to spin off its LCD panel business, charged up 2.5 percent to close at a two-week high of 251 yen.

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Shanghai Comp up 2.5%

China's index soared to fresh seven-year highs following a three-day weekend.

Among top gainers, transport stocks CSR and China CNR rose by the daily maximum allowable 10 percent. Banking counters also contributed to the upswing; Industrial Bank rallied 6.1 percent, while China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China were up over 2 percent each.

Markets in Hong Kong remain closed for the Ching Ming Festival.

Why Samsung is a 'safe bet' for the year

Kospi flat

South Korea's Kospi index climbed down from a six-month intra-day high as Samsung Electronics, which released its guidance on first-quarter results earlier in the session, crept down 0.5 percent to 1,462,000 won. The heaviest-weighted stock on the bourse rose as high as 1,485,000 won earlier in the session.

The South Korean tech giant forecast operating profit of 5.9 trillion won ($5.43 billion) for the January-March period, above expectations of 5.3 trillion won in a Reuters poll, but down sharply from 8.5 trillion a year earlier. The guidance, released ahead of full quarterly results due later this month, also tipped revenue of 47 trillion won for first quarter, below expectations of 49.8 trillion.