Asia stocks rise modestly, taking lead from Wall Street after upbeat corporate earnings

Energy Associated Press

Most Asian stock markets were modestly higher Tuesday after positive U.S. earnings reports boosted sentiment.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.6 percent to 20,765.10 while South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.1 percent to 2,070.38. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.4 percent to 25,504.07. The Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China rose 0.3 percent to 4,002.64, though in a sign of continuing volatility it weaved in and out of positive territory. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.5 percent to 5,712.80.

EARNINGS OUTLOOK: Now that the Greek crisis is fading from view and China's stock market plunge has abated, investors are taking the pulse of the global economy in the form of second-quarter corporate results. Some 129 U.S. companies are releasing their earnings this week. The first batch on Monday were generally upbeat. U.S. toy maker Hasbro, oil and gas company Halliburton and investment bank Morgan Stanley all reported better than expected earnings.

CENTRAL BANKS: Japanese and Australian central bank policymakers were assessing economic conditions in their countries, according to minutes from meetings released Tuesday. The Reserve Bank of Australia worried about recent turbulence in China's stock markets and Greece's debt crisis. In Japan, some Bank of Japan members worried that the effects of its unprecedented monetary policy may be "diminishing," Kyodo news reported. However, neither bank made any changes to ultra-low interest rates aimed at spurring growth.

ANALYST VIEW: "The bottom line is that the world remains in a sort of messy sweet spot for investors," Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital in Sydney, Australia, wrote in a report. "Growth is not flash but okay, inflation is low and monetary conditions overall are set to remain easy."

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks ended slightly higher Monday after a day of mostly listless trading, with the Nasdaq rising to a record high for the second day in a row. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.1 percent to 18,100.41 and the Standard & Poor's 500 added 0.1 percent to 2,128.28. The Nasdaq rose 0.2 percent to 5,218.86.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 18 cents to $49.97 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 74 cents to close at $50.15 a barrel in New York on Monday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 9 cents to $56.56 in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 124.41 yen from 124.31 in late trading Monday. The euro slipped to $1.0817 from $1.0832.