Asian stock markets mixed ahead of earnings

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BANGKOK (AP) — Asian markets were mixed Tuesday as investors held back ahead of a slew of earnings and oil tumbled below $82 a barrel, knocking commodity stocks.

The region’s lackluster performance was despite modest gains on Wall Street where stocks rose on signs that global manufacturing is on the mend.

The dollar was slightly higher against the yen and the euro while oil fell on expectations a frigid cold spell in parts of the U.S., Europe and Asia will ease in coming weeks, weakening crude demand.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average rose 104.54 points, or 1 percent, to 10,902.86 after being closed for a public holiday Monday. Hong Kong Hang’s Seng, meanwhile, was down 100.69, or 0.5 percent, to 22,310.83 and South Korea’s Kospi was fractionally lower at 1,693.30.

Elsewhere, Australia’s benchmark retreated 1 percent as mining giants like BHP Billiton fell amid the lower oil price while China’s Shanghai index jumped 1 percent to 3,245.17. Singapore’s stock measure was flat.

A raft of quarterly earnings reports are due from the U.S., European and Asian companies in the coming weeks and will give investors further insight into the strenght of the global recovery.

Optimism about the upturn was boosted Monday by news that China’s exports surged nearly 18 percent in December after 13 months of declines, helping the country to edge past Germany as the world’s biggest exporter.

In the U.S. on Monday, the Dow rose 45.80, or 0.4 percent, to 10,663.99. The S&P 500 index rose 2.00, or 0.2 percent, to 1,146.98, while the Nasdaq fell 4.76, or 0.2 percent, to 2,312.41.

In oil, benchmark crude for February delivery was down 57 cents to $81.95 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Monday, a weakening U.S. dollar helped push the contract to a 15-month high near $84 a barrel before it settled down 23 cents at $82.52.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 92.26 yen from 92.13 yen. The euro fell to $1.4487 from $1.4514.