Asian Shares Mostly Higher As Investors Look To Fed

Asian stocks closed mostly higher on Monday amid bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve will pause its tightening campaign after delivering a 25-basis point increase this week. Upcoming ECB and BOJ meetings also remained on investors’ radar.

Gold edged up slightly and the dollar was broadly steady against a basket of currencies, while oil prices fell on profit taking after last week’s rally.

Chinese shares edged lower as property developers tumbled on liquidity concerns. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.1 percent to 3,164.16.

Investors also awaited the outcome of a Politburo meeting this week that might bring more measures to prop up slowing growth in the world’s second largest economy.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index plunged 2.1 percent to 18,668.15. Alibaba Group Holding shares gave up nearly 2 percent after the e-commerce giant said it does not plan to sell any shares in its one-third shareholding in financial technology company Ant Group.

Japanese shares posted strong gains ahead of a Bank of Japan policy meeting this week that might not yield any major changes to the central bank’s ultra-lax monetary policy stance.

The Nikkei 225 Index rallied 1.2 percent to 32,700.94, while the broader Topix Index ended 0.8 percent higher at 2,281.18.

A weaker yen lifted carmakers, with Honda, Toyota and Nissan climbing 2-3 percent. Chip-related shares rebounded from a two-day fall, with Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings gaining 2-3 percent.

Investors shrugged off data showing that Japan’s factory activity shrank in July constrained by weak demand.

Seoul stocks rose notably, led by battery makers and steel manufacturers. The Kospi settled 0.7 percent higher at 2,628.53. POSCO Holdings soared 16.5 percent after its quarterly earnings met market expectations.

Australian markets ended slightly lower as miners fell, offsetting a rally in energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged down 0.1 percent to 7,306.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index closed 0.1 percent lower at 7,517.30.

Lithium explorers led losses, with Core Lithium shares plunging 17.2 percent after production guidance missed expectations. Rivals Pilbara Minerals and Liontown Resources lost 5.8 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively.

Rio Tinto fell 1.3 percent ahead of its earnings result due on Wednesday. South32 declined 2.6 percent after flagging a US$1.3 billion impairment.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index climbed 0.7 percent to 12,018.23 after data showed the country eked out a small trade surplus in June.

U.S. stocks ended a lackluster session narrowly mixed on Friday as a large volume of index and stock options expired.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up marginally to notch its 10th straight day of gains, marking its longest rally in almost six years.

The S&P 500 also ended marginally higher, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased 0.2 percent ahead of a rebalance of the Nasdaq 100 index.

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