HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed Monday following a weak lead from Wall Street as traders erred on the side of caution on expectations the US Federal Reserve will soon begin reeling in its stimulus programme.
Tokyo rose 0.79 percent, or 108.02 points, to 13,758.13, Sydney was flat, edging down 1.4 points to 5,112.5 and Seoul eased 0.13 percent, or 2.47 points, to 1,917.64.
Hong Kong fell 0.24 percent, or 54.11 points, to 22,463.70 while Shanghai ended 0.83 percent, or 17.15 points, higher at 2,085.60.
US shares ended lower Friday, bringing a close to one of Wall Street’s worst weeks of 2013, as a consumer confidence report showed weaker sentiment in August than July while retailers also reported poor earnings.
The Dow fell 0.20 percent, the S&P 500 declined 0.32 percent and the Nasdaq was 0.09 percent off.
However, while the latest economic data out of Washington were soft investors feel the US central bank will begin to wind down the $85 billion a month bond-buying scheme that has supported global markets for almost a year.
Many market-watchers predict the bank will begin its tapering next month.
However, BNP Paribas economist Julia Coronado said: “While clearly a September move is on the table, we think it is less of a done deal than most market participants are currently thinking.”
She told Dow Jones Newswires that minutes from July’s Fed policy meeting that are due out this week will likely show a variety of views within the bank over the program’s future.
On forex markets the dollar bought 97.60 yen in afternoon trade, against 97.53 yen in New York Friday.
The euro fetched $1.3325 and 130.03 yen compared to $1.3326 and 130.01 yen, with the single currency getting support from last week’s figures showing some economic life returning to the eurozone.
India’s rupee, Asia’s worst-performing major currency this year, fell to a record low 62.35 against the dollar as concerns about Fed tapering as well as the domestic economy cause jitters among investors.
In Tokyo, shares rose despite figures showing Japan’s trade deficit had almost doubled as the weaker yen led to a surge in the cost of energy imports.
However, the data also showed exports to the United States jumped 18.4 percent while those to the eurozone were up 9.5 percent.
On oil markets New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in September, was down 22 cents at $107.14 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for October delivery was up 18 cents at $110.58.
Gold fetched $1,375.20 at 1030 GMT from $1,362.40 late Friday.
In other markets:
— Mumbai closed down 1.56 percent, or 290.66 points, at 18,307.52 points.
India’s telecom services firm Bharti Airtel fell 5.51 percent to 317.35 rupees while private bank ICICI Bank fell 5.07 percent to 815.10 rupees.
— Singapore closed down 0.76 percent, or 24.20 points, at 3173.33.
Singapore Telecom rose 0.81 percent to Sg$3.75 while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation shed 0.66 percent to Sg$10.48.
— Jakarta ended down 5.58 percent, or 255.14 points, at 4,313.52.
State miner Aneka Tambang fell 4.51 percent to 1,270 rupiah, while tin miner Timah lost 6.72 percent to 1,250 rupiah.
— Kuala Lumpur fell 0.55 percent, or 9.88 points, to close at 1,778.36.
CIMB Group Holdings lost 1.7 percent to 7.90 ringgit, while UEM Sunrise Bhd eased 1.1 percent to 2.69. DiGi.com gained 0.7 percent to 4.68 ringgit.
— Bangkok fell 3.27 percent, or 47.28 points, to 1,398.48.
Siam Cement dropped 4.37 percent to 438 baht, while telecoms company Advanced Info Service lost 3.65 percent to 264 baht.
— Taipei slipped 0.31 percent, or 24.79 points, to 7,900.21. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. dropped 1.04 percent to Tw$95.5 and Hon Hai Precision was 0.38 percent higher at Tw$79.4.
— Wellington fell 0.24 percent, or 10.66 points, to 4,503.22.
Fletcher Building was down 1.44 percent at NZ$8.20 and Trade Me fell 2.29 percent to NZ$4.70 while Telecom rose 0.44 percent to NZ$2.26.
— Manila’s bourse was closed owing to severe floods in the capital.—Danny McCord