Asian stock markets mostly gain as Ukraine, Iraq jitters ease

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SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets mostly traded higher on Tuesday as an easing of tensions over Ukraine and Iraq gave investors the confidence to dip into riskier assets.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.2 per cent to 15,154.90 and South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.1 per cent to 2,041.40. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.1 per cent to 5,519.30. Stocks in Indonesia and Singapore also advanced. But Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.1 per cent to 24,626.38 and China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.2 per cent to 2,219.99.

GEOPOLITICS: Ukraine agreed with Russia, the European Union and the U.S. to allow a Red Cross-led mission to provide humanitarian assistance to eastern Ukraine, where Kyiv is trying to quell an uprising by pro-Russian separatists. In Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s hold on power is weakening, possibly opening the way for a less divisive figure to lead the government, which is fighting an insurgency. President Barack Obama said the U.S. had successfully carried out air strikes to support Kurdish fighters in their battle against Islamist extremists in Iraq.

ANALYST TAKE: “Global sentiment continued to recover overnight as the conflict in the Ukraine appeared to moderate, at least temporarily. In addition, the situation in Iraq is not currently troubling markets, despite the resumption of U.S. strikes,” said William Leys, a sales trader at CMC Markets.

WALL STREET: The U.S. stock market extended a rebound from Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.3 per cent to 1,936.92. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed 0.1 per cent to 16,569.98. The Nasdaq composite gained 0.7 per cent to 4,401.33.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil for September delivery was down 27 cents to $97.81 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 43 cents to settle at $98.08 on Monday.

CURRENCIES: The euro declined to $1.3375 from $1.3382. The dollar rose to 102.32 yen from 102.24 yen.

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