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Asia-Pacific stocks rise as Australia maintains cash rate; India announces budget

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets rose on Tuesday, tracking stocks on Wall Street as they surged for a second session. Australia said it’s maintaining its cash rate, while investors in the region looked ahead to India’s budget announcement.

Japan Nikkei 225 rose 0.28% to close at 27,078.48, while the Topix closed flat to 1,896.06. Some tech stocks rose, with SoftBank rising 1.12% and Sony paring earlier gains to inch up 0.39%.

Sony’s subsidiary Sony Interactive Entertainment announced Monday it has agreed to acquire privately held video game developer Bungie for $3.6 billion.

Meanwhile, Japan’s manufacturing activity grew at the fastest pace in nearly eight years, according to Reuters, brought on by new orders and stronger output.

Australia’s ASX 200 rose 0.49% to close at 7,006 after declining earlier.

The Reserve Bank of Australia maintained its cash rate at 0.1% on Tuesday, going against market expectations for a rate hike, although it ended its bond buying program as predicted.

“Ceasing purchases under the bond purchase program does not imply a near-term increase in interest rates. As the Board has stated previously, it will not increase the cash rate until actual inflation is sustainably within the 2 to 3 per cent target range. While inflation has picked up, it is too early to conclude that it is sustainably within the target band,” said the central bank’s Governor Philip Lowe in a statement.

“The Omicron outbreak has affected the economy, but it has not derailed the economic recovery. The Australian economy remains resilient and spending is expected to pick up as case numbers trend lower,” he added.

Following the monetary policy decision, the Australian dollar was at $0.7040, down from levels around $0.706 earlier.

Data on Tuesday also showed that Australia’s retail sales in December fell 4.4% to $31.9 billion Australian dollars ($22.53 billion), after a 7.3% jump in November, according to Reuters.

Elsewhere, India on Tuesday announced its budget for fiscal year 2023. Among other details, its finance minister announced spending of 200 billion rupees ($2.68 billion) for a highway expansion program, and will touch on other spending, tax collections and the fiscal deficit, according to Reuters.

“Oil’s surge in particular is a worry as the negative impact on discretionary demand as well as eroding margins may circle back to set back the fiscal positions,” Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank wrote in a Monday note, referring to India’s budget announcement. India is a major oil consumer and importer.

“The silver lining is that FY2023 Budget ought to ensure a delicate balance of supportive growth dynamics and fiscal consolidation,” he added.

India’s Nifty 50 rose 1.44%, while the Sensex index was up 1.23%.

Elsewhere, markets in mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore are closed for a holiday.

Over on Wall Street, stocks surged for a second day Monday to wrap up a rough January.

The S&P 500 rose 1.89% to 4,515.55, closing out the month down 5.3%. That’s its worst month since the 12.5% loss in March 2020, and its biggest January decline since 2009. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 406.39 points, or 1.2%, to reach 35,131.86. That helped it cut its monthly loss to 3.3%, as it benefitted from its underweighting in tech shares.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite rose 3.41% to 14,239.88, adding to its 3% comeback Friday. The index still ended down 8.9% for January, its worst month since March 2020.

Currencies, oil

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.590, declining from levels around 96.6 earlier.

The Japanese yen traded at 115.02 per dollar, weakening from levels around 114 previously.

Meanwhile, oil rose on Monday to their biggest monthly gain in almost a year amid a supply shortage and political tensions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, according to Reuters.

As the Russia-Ukraine crisis escalates, Moscow is sending more troops and weapons to its border, where an estimated 100,000 troops are already deployed.

Brent crude finished the day at $91.21 for a gain of 1.31%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude settled 1.53% higher at $88.15 per barrel.

On Tuesday morning during Asia hours, U.S. crude rose 0.22% to $88.34 per barrel, while Brent was up 0.2% to $89.46.

— CNBC’s Tanaya Macheel and Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.

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