Exporters up; miners weigh on Sydney
HONG KONG, May 16 (Reuters) Asian stock markets steadied from recent sharp falls on Tuesday as exporters rose on the back of a rebound in the U.S. dollar, but declines in base metals prices hit commodity issues such as BHP Billiton.
After a stellar run, base metals tumbled at the London Metal Exchange on Monday as some funds cashed in and sentiment turned against copper.
But the pullback from commodities helped the U.S. dollar stage a comeback, giving major exporters such as Toyota Motor a bit of a reprieve. The dollar was buying 110.53 yen in early Asian dealings.
''I think that investors will get some relief from the fact that the exchange level has improved somewhat,'' said Shinji Igarashi, equity manager of sales at Chuo Securities.
At 0025 GMT, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei average had risen 0.50 percent, rebounding after five straight sessions of declines, as major exporters such as Toyota rose 1.1 percent and Sony gained 0.8 percent.
In South Korea, gains of more than 2 percent for top lender Kookmin Bank and LG Electronics were offset by falls in market heavyweight Samsung Electronics and steel maker POSCO, keeping the key KOSPI little changed, up a modest 0.05 percent.
''With the falls in oil prices and commodity prices such as gold, the worries about inflation will ease,'' said Choo Hee-yeop, deputy general manager of asset management strategy at Korea Investment and Securities.
Australia's key S&P/ASX 200 index dipped 0.27 percent, dragged lower by the major miners such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and gold producer Newcrest Mining.
But Tabcorp Holdings jumped 1.7 percent after the top wagering group said it had reached an agreement with thoroughbred racing broadcaster ThoroughVisiN to settle a long-running broadcasting dispute.
On Monday, U.S. blue-chip stocks rose 0.42 percent as investors switched to defensive sectors such as health-care and insurance, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index eased 0.23 percent.
REUTERS PG PM0618