Asian stock markets mostly higher ahead of earnings reports

SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets mostly gained on Tuesday as investors awaited corporate earnings results at home and abroad.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.1 per cent to 15,928.79 and South Korea’s Kospi added 0.6 per cent to 1,981.32, a day before South Koreans elect 300 new lawmakers to parliament. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 0.4 per cent to 20,508.93 and Australia’s S&X/ASX 200 added 0.9 per cent to 4,975.60. But China’s Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.8 per cent to 3,010.83. Stocks advanced in Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines but fell in Taiwan.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “U.S. company reporting is a key factor this week,” said Michael McCarthy of CMC Markets, noting Monday’s report by aluminum mining giant Alcoa’s better than expected first-quarter earnings. While some bemoan the “jobless recovery” and weaker revenues, “In the meantime, investors who are not subscribers to the ‘perfect world’ theory of markets got on with buying Alcoa,” he said in a commentary.

EARNINGS: Apart from Alcoa, later this week big U.S. banks will start releasing results, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, though expectations are low for this earnings season. In Asia, Samsung Electronics gave an earnings preview that surpassed expectations last week and results of other major companies are due in coming weeks.

WALL STREET: Wall Street ended Monday generally flat as investors awaited first-quarter company earnings. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.1 per cent to 17,556.41. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.3 per cent to 2,041.99 and the Nasdaq composite fell 0.4 per cent to 4,833.40.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 13 cents to $40.23 per barrel. The contract rose 64 cents to close at $40.36 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international benchmark, lost 4 cents to $42.79 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 108.39 yen from 107.89 yen while the euro slightly strengthened to $1.1417 from $1.1413.