Asia Mostly Higher on Oil Prices

Asian markets were mostly higher in Tuesday trade, following the bounce in oil prices after the energy ministers of Russia and Saudi Arabia announced output cuts should be extended till March 2018 and as investors largely shrugged off U.S. political news on President Donald Trump.

The Nikkei 225 recovered 49.97 points, or 0.3% to 19,919.82. The index had traded at its highest levels since December 2015 earlier in the session.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ditched 35.65 points, or 0.1%, to 25,335.94

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the media his country would continue pushing for a trans-Pacific trade deal, but he hoped the U.S. would rejoin the pact.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped more than 3% during the session yesterday following the news. Saudi Arabia and Russia are the world's top two oil producers.

Meanwhile, Moody's downgraded the corporate rating of Singapore-listed Noble Group. The reasons for the downgrade included Noble's "weak operating cashflow and large debt maturities over the next 12 months," according to one Moody's senior analyst.

Noble Group shares gained 5.1% after slumping more than 20% last week.

Australian markets were driven upward by gains in their industrials and materials sub-indexes.

The U.S. dollar gained against the yen for a second straight session, last trading at 113.37. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar gained against the dollar to trade at $0.7426. The Aussie had touched a near four-month low last week due to weaker commodity prices. The New Zealand dollar also climbed against the dollar, last trading at $0.6884 U.S.

Prices of other commodities, including copper and aluminum, tracked the moves in oil, one National Australia Bank currency strategist said in note, adding that this "helped commodity-linked currencies outperform." He added that the kiwi and Aussie had given up some gains as oil prices eased overnight.

The Aussie dollar was mostly unaffected by minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) May meeting, which were released earlier in the morning. The RBA said it had concerns about the labour market but was certain that core inflation would improve by 2018.

Investors were also mulling the potential economic policy impact of a Washington Post report that President Trump divulged highly classified information during his meeting with Russian officials last week. Officials told the Post that the information was sensitive and that its exposure endangered the relationship with an ally. The White House later denied the report.

CHINA

Shanghai’s CSI 300 tacked on 29.46 points, or 0.9%, to 3,428.65

Meanwhile, shares of airline Cathay Pacific sank 3% following reports the company would be cutting jobs as soon as this Friday. The company had earlier said it would be carrying out lay-offs due to competition in the market.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index fell 5.33 points, or 0.1%, to 10,031.49

In Korea, the Kospi index inched up 4.68 points, or 0.2%, to 2,295.33

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index deducted 36.5 points, or 1.1%, to 3,227.71

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 faded 22.33 points, or 0.3%, to 7,407.61

In Australia, the ASX 200 acquired 12.12 points, or 0.2%, to 5,850.52