Global Markets Higher; Australia Is the Exception -- Update

By Ese Erheriene Features Dow Jones Newswires

Stocks extended gains in Asia-Pacific trading Tuesday, though advances were modest, while Australian equities continued to lag behind as its utility and mining stocks declined.

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Mining stocks had given some support to Australia's market a day earlier, but miners were hit Tuesday after industrial and precious metals fell as the dollar rose overnight.

Also causing some concern was the 1% drop in gold prices that came immediately after the release Monday of a German business-sentiment index showing a gain to record highs. More than 1.8 million troy ounces of gold were traded within a minute, "more than the volumes traded...during recent global risk events," noted ANZ Research, raising the prospect that human error was at play. After hitting a six-week low Monday, the metal was little changed in Asian trading Tuesday.

Australian-listed gold miners Tuesday were down more than 1%. Utilities stocks--good performers of late despite the broader softness in Australian stocks--were also lower, with the utilities subindex of the benchmark S&P/ ASX 200 down 1.5%.

The ASX, the only major Asia Pacific stock index down for June, was recently off 0.1% for the day.

While Taiwan's Taiex was struggling to stay ahead Tuesday after eight straight sessions of gains, stocks in most other markets, lacking broad trading catalysts, were modestly higher.

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Korea's Kospi gained 0.3%, putting it on pace for another record high, while the Nikkei added 0.3% to hit its best level in a week. Helping equities there was an overnight decline in the yen, which fell with gold in an apparent move from some havens. The dollar hit its best level in a month, briefly trading above Yen112.

The Nasdaq Composite slipped overnight despite gains in a number of Asian tech companies Monday. That was pressuring Taiwan stocks, among others. Regional equities "could find more disparate returns on the heels of a tech slide," said Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG Group.

Later Tuesday investors will closely watch comments from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen.

During a slow news week as the second quarter comes to an end, "what matters most...is Fedspeak," said Kathy Lien, head of forex strategy at BK Asset Management. She added that if Ms. Yellen repeats hawkishness expressed earlier this month following the central bank's latest interest-rate increase, the dollar is poised to rise further against the yen.

Investors want to know whether Ms. Yellen believes recent softness in some U.S. data is transitory. Policy makers' latest forecasts suggest as much, continuing to project three interest-rate increases both this year and next.

Kenan Machado contributed to this article.

Write to Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

A decline in shares of car companies dragged down European stocks early Tuesday as investors waited for comments from global central bankers.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was off 0.3% in the early minutes of trading, weighed down by a 1.5% drop in the autos and parts sector. General Motors Co. said Monday it expects industry vehicle sales to fall short of its original forecast for the year, with finance chief Chuck Stevens noting slowing U.S. sales in the first several months of the year.

Italian banks edged down 0.1% following a day of solid gains, while Europe's resources sector advanced, supported by a stabilization in iron-ore prices and gains across commodity markets including crude oil futures, gold and copper prices.

Government bonds and currencies were broadly steady as investors waited for new comments from central bank officials later Tuesday, including remarks from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Federal Reserve Chairwoman

Ms. Yellen is set to speak in London on global economic issues as the Fed considers the timing of future interest-rate rises and the start of its plan to wind down its asset holdings.

During a slow news week as the second quarter comes to an end, "what matters most...is Fedspeak," said Kathy Lien, head of forex strategy at BK Asset Management.

Investors want to know whether Ms. Yellen believes recent softness in some U.S. economic data is transitory. Policy makers' latest forecasts suggest as much, continuing to project three interest-rate increases both this year and next.

Fed-fund futures tracked by CME Group suggest investors currently see just a 13% chance of a rate rise by the end of the September meeting. "Should the remaining FOMC members start sounding notably more hawkish or the U.S. data generally surprise on the upside, the market can quickly change its mind," strategists at Commerzbank wrote in a note.

Earlier, stocks mostly extended modest gains in Asia-Pacific trading following a quiet session on Wall Street.

Korea's Kospi edged up 0.1%, putting it on pace for another record close, while Japan's Nikkei added 0.4% to hit its best level in a week following an earlier decline in the yen. The dollar hit its best level against the Japanese currency in a month, briefly trading above Yen112 before retreating.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 currencies, was last down 0.1%.

Australian equities were 0.1% lower as gains among major banks and miners were offset by declines elsewhere, particularly in utilities and consumer shares.

Kenan Machado contributed to this article.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Ese Erheriene at ese.erheriene@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 27, 2017 03:47 ET (07:47 GMT)