ASIA MARKETS: Nikkei Surges To 2-month High, But Other Asian Markets Sag

Airport pipeline spill still weighs on New Zealand stocks

Japan was a bright spot in global markets Tuesday, coming off a holiday a day earlier, as stocks elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region were muted.

Investors are looking ahead to meetings later this week for the Bank of Japan and Federal Reserve. Rate changes aren't expected in either case, though the Fed is expected to detail plans on how it will trim its mammoth balance sheet.

And AxiTrader's Greg McKenna said investors were optimistic about the Trump administration's prospects for legislative progress, given the president's recent shows of bipartisanship.

"There has been an absolute change in the narrative," he added.

The Nikkei rose 1.3%, reaching its best levels in two months and putting the index back above 20,000 for the first time since Aug. 8. The yen weakened Monday, which could account for the today's strength in equities.

Insurers led gains in Tokyo, benefiting from a week of rising global bond prices. Dai-ichi Life Holdings (8750.TO) and T&D Holdings (8795.TO) both rose nearly 4%.

Export stocks also showed strength on Monday's yen weakness. Against the U.S. dollar , it ended Friday trading at Yen110.50, though it was recently at around Yen111.50 after dollar strengthened in New York overnight.

Nintendo (7974.TO) rose 4.7%, reaching fresh nine-year highs, while auto makers climbed about 2%.

Stocks opened slightly higher in much of Asia on Tuesday but by midmorning, they had turned slightly lower; Hong Kong equities were recently down 0.4%.

New Zealand's NZX 50 maintained a slight gain, though some stocks continue to be impacted by Thursday's pipeline rupture which caused airport flight delays and cancellations. Index heavyweight Auckland International Airport (AIA.NZ) gained 0.4% and New Zealand Refining (NZR.NZ) rose 1.7% to reverse some of Monday's slide. But Air New Zealand (AIR.NZ) fell another 0.5%.

Currency and commodities markets were also little changed in morning Asian trading Tuesday, with oil and gold moving between positive and negative territory.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 18, 2017 22:57 ET (02:57 GMT)