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Markets

Asia stocks edge higher as rising crude prices buoy energy companies

Keppel, Oil & Natural Gas, Sapura Energy advance

MUMBAI (NewsRise) -- Asian stocks outside of Japan edged higher on Tuesday, led by energy related companies after Brent crude prices climbed to the highest level in about four years.

The Nikkei Asia300 Index advanced 0.1% to 1,304.98, rebounding from its near 1% decline on Monday amid intensifying trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

Tuesday's performance of the A300 index came following a decline on the S&P 500 Index overnight. Washington tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese shipments and Beijing's extra duties on $60 billion of U.S. imports came into effect on Monday. Risk appetite on Wall Street was further pressured by a report that Beijing had cancelled scheduled trade talks with Washington and reports that that U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will leave his post.

"It does appear that investors are preparing for another potential escalation in global trade tensions," said Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy & market research at broker FXTM. Unless there was a breakthrough in trade tensions, the overall sentiment will remain "hesitant" and the stance on global stocks will continue to be cautious, Ahmad said.

Regional risk appetite was further marred by the rise in U.S. long-term treasury yields to their highest this year ahead of the two-day Federal Reserve meeting that begins later in the day. The monetary authority is expected to raise rates for the third time this year and signal that it remains on course for another increase in December.

Singaporean rig builder Keppel Corp. advanced 1.9%, Indian energy explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp. rose 1.1%, and Malaysia's oil services provider Sapura Energy jumped 2.3% after Brent crude prices jumped by the most in three months on Tuesday to their highest since late 2014. Sapura's notification on Monday that it had won multiple contracts worth almost $200 million also contributed to the gains.

Malaysia's CIMB Group Holdings declined 0.5% after the lender said the group's chairman will step down by December 31, 2018.

India software exporters advanced amid a decline in the rupee on account of rising crude prices. The currency fell to 72.96 intraday, just shy of its record low of 72.99. Infosys closed 1.3% higher and HCL Technologies climbed 1.5%.

Indian financial firms, which came under pressure in previous two sessions amid concerns over a liquidity crunch at non-banking financial companies, rebounded on Tuesday. Housing Development Finance added 2.9% after suffering its biggest decline in more than five years on Monday. State Bank of India rose 2.2%.

The Nikkei Asia300 ASEAN Index of Southeast Asian companies ended little changed. Hong Kong and South Korea markets were closed for trading on Tuesday.

--Nimesh Vora

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