Asian stocks gain, European markets lackluster

BEIJING - Asian stocks rose Tuesday after Australia's central bank left the door ajar to lower interest rates, underlining a trend for the region's policymakers to keep stimulus taps open while a rate hike looms in the U.S. European markets were lackluster.

In early trading, Germany's DAX lost 0.2 percent to 10,930.50 and France's CAC-40 shed 0.1 percent to 4,912.22. Britain's FTSE 100 was little changed at 6,358.97.

Wall Street looked set for loses: Both Dow and S&P futures were down 0.2 percent.

The Reserve Bank of Australia left its benchmark rate unchanged at a record low of 2 percent. The bank kept open the possibility of a cut later if economic growth fails to pick up. Governor Glenn Stevens said that while growth was below long-term averages, conditions appeared to be improving. He said low inflation means there is scope to reduce the benchmark rate if needed. Central banks in China, Japan, Singapore and other Asian countries are also trying to support growth with accommodative monetary policy.

The Commerce Department reports on U.S. factory orders for September on Tuesday. In August, orders to U.S. factories fell by the largest amount in eight months, led by a drop in demand for commercial airplanes and weakness in a key category that tracks business investment spending. U.S. economic indicators are being closely followed as investors try to guess whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates from a record low at its December policy meeting.

"Given the rally we've seen in global equities over the past 24 hours, some U.S. data tonight that supports low rates for longer in the U.S. will likely be taken as a positive by the markets," said IG market analyst Angus Nicholson in a commentary. "The hawkish statement by the Fed last week does seem at odds with much of the data coming out of the States at the moment, and one would expect market pricing of the first rate hike to increasingly reflect this."

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 1.4 percent to 5,239.20 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.9 percent to 22,568.43. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.7 percent to 2,048.40. Taiwan, Singapore and Jakarta also advanced. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.3 percent to 3,316.70. India's Sensex was up 1 percent at 26,593.93.

Benchmark U.S. crude added 11 cents to $46.25 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 45 cents on Monday to close at $46.14. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 15 cents to $48.64 in London.

The dollar eased to 120.75 yen from 120.83 yen in the previous trading session. The euro slipped to $1.1002 from $1.1014.