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Asia Markets: Australia leads Asia stocks higher early Wednesday despite disappointing consumer confidence data

Stocks in Asia were mostly higher early Wednesday, with Australian equities leading the way despite data showing consumer confidence weakening on the continent. Japan’s Nikkei was a laggard in the region, dropping 0..1%.

Australian consumer sentiment weakened despite interest rate cuts and tax relief with the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment down 4.1% at 96.51 in July from 100.66 in June. Westpac Senior Economist Matthew Hassan says the fall in sentiment this month is troubling as it comes against what should have been a supportive backdrop for confidence.

The last month has seen the RBA cut rates another 25 basis points, the Federal government’s tax package pass through Parliament, more signs that the Sydney and Melbourne housing markets are stabilizing and even some improvement in the U.S.

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