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Japanese markets close up for 11th straight day as oil holds onto gains

  • Oil held onto overnight gains
  • Copper prices were steady
  • Dollar edged up
  • Japan's Kobe Steel has fabricated data for "decades," Nikkei Asian Review reported
  • Singapore non-oil exports unexpectedly declined

Japanese markets closed higher for an 11th straight session while a broader index of other Asian shares was little changed on Tuesday. Oil prices, meanwhile, held onto most gains on the back of geopolitical tensions.

Japan's Nikkei 225 rose yet again, to close up 0.38 percent, or 80.56 points, at 21,336.12. Most automakers and manufacturing names gained while tech stocks were mixed: SoftBank Group closed down 1 percent and Line declined 2.25 percent.

Meanwhile, South Korea's benchmark Kospi index advanced 0.17 percent to close at 2,484.37 as steelmakers pared some gains made in the last session. Tech stocks finished the session mixed: Samsung Electronics closed up 1.63 percent, but SK Hynix reversed early gains to close down 0.83 percent.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.73 percent to end at 5,889.6, with the materials sub-index adding to overnight gains and climbing 1.02 percent by the end of the day. Major miners, banks and oil stocks notched gains in the session.

On the mainland, markets closed narrowly mixed ahead of a highly-anticipated meeting of the Communist Party beginning Oct. 18: The Shanghai Composite closed down 0.15 percent at 3,373.4368 and the Shenzhen Composite tacked on 0.105 percent to finish the session at 2,008.0604. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index, meanwhile, traded 0.02 percent above the flat line at 3:02 p.m. HK/SIN.

MSCI's broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was flat at 3:16 p.m. HK/SIN.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Oil prices were steady after getting an overnight boost on headlines that Iraqi forces had captured parts of Kirkuk, an oil-rich city controlled by Kurdish forces. Brent crude futures rose 0.12 percent to trade at $57.89 a barrel and U.S. crude edged up 0.02 percent to trade at $51.89.

"Traders continue to worry about potential supply disruptions from Iraqi Kurdistan ... The threat of escalating tensions in the region should continue to provide support to crude through the remainder of the week," Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Also in the commodities patch, copper prices edged down after cracking the $7,000 per ton level in the last session. Copper prices had reached heights not seen since 2014 on Monday after China's producer price index beat expectations. The metal last traded at $7,082.

Investors are expecting a "relatively positive backdrop" in the space ahead of China's 19th Party Congress, which is set to begin Oct. 18, according to ANZ Research.

Meanwhile, the greenback edged up against a basket of rival currencies, with the dollar index standing at 93.505 at 3:07 p.m. HK/SIN. The U.S. currency was little changed against the Japanese yen, with the dollar last trading at 112.18.

In other currencies, the euro slid for the fifth straight day following an election in Austria which put right-leaning People's Party leader Sebastian Kurz on track to becoming the youngest leader in the world.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont's failure to clarify Catalonia's position on independence from Spain also likely weighed on the common currency, which traded at $1.1759 at 3:08 p.m. HK/SIN, its lowest level in around a week.

Stocks on Wall Street touched record highs on Monday as earnings season carried on. The Dow Jones tacked on 0.37 percent, or 85.24 points, to close at 22,956.96.

Also in the U.S., President Donald Trump met with Stanford University economist John Taylor on Monday in his attempt to find a successor for the position of Federal Reserve Chair, according to Reuters. Trump is due to meet with incumbent Janet Yellen later in the week. Market watchers are also keeping an eye on Jerome Powell and Kevin Warsh — a current Federal Reserve Governor and a former one, respectively — as potential candidates.

Yields on the two-year U.S. Treasury note stood at 1.542 percent on Tuesday after rising as high as 1.546 percent overnight following that development.

In corporate news, the falsification of product data at Japan's Kobe Steel took place for longer than the 10-year period indicated by the steelmaker, Nikkei Asian Review said. The practice had actually occurred for decades at the company, Nikkei said, citing a source. Despite that, Kobe Steel shares closed up 3.14 percent after trading near their lowest levels in five years on Monday.

Elsewhere, Tencent Holdings Chairman Ma Huateng has sold part of his stake in the internet company, according to the Wall Street Journal. Ma raised approximately 2.1 billion Hong Kong dollars ($269 million) after he lowered his stake in Tencent to 8.63 percent from 8.69 percent, the WSJ reported. Tencent stock was off 0.22 percent by 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN.

In economic news, minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia showed policymakers were in no hurry to raise interest rates in the country just because other economies were doing so, Reuters said.

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports in September showed a surprise 1.1 percent decline compared to a year ago, according to government data. That measured against a 12.7 percent gain estimated by analysts in a Reuters poll.

The greenback firmed against the Singapore dollar following the news, fetching as much as $1.3567 compared with as little as $1.3505 in the last session. The Singapore currency traded at $1.3555 to the dollar at 3:10 p.m. HK/SIN.