Asian markets mixed ahead of key bank meetingsBy Danny McCord
HONG KONG—Asian markets were mixed in cautious trade on Wednesday as dealers awaited key policy meetings at the central banks of the United States and Japan this week.
The euro rose against the yen on expectations of another batch of easing measures from the Bank of Japan when it meets for its rate-setting meeting on Friday, while it was also supported by bargain buying after recent losses.
Tokyo climbed 0.98 percent, or 92.97 points, to 9,561.01 and Seoul ended flat, dipping 1.44 points to 1,961.98.
Shanghai added 0.75 percent, or 17.98 points, to end at 2,406.81 but Hong Kong slipped 0.15 percent, or 30.87 points, to 20,646.29.
Sydney and Wellington were closed to mark ANZAC day.
Regional shares were generally recovering after big losses on Monday that were caused by political uncertainty in France and the Netherlands and weak manufacturing figures from China and the eurozone.
Eyes were on the US Federal Reserve, which was due to complete its two-day rate-setting meeting later Wednesday and a news briefing afterwards by chairman Ben Bernanke that may offer hints to the economy’s direction.
“This (Fed meeting) could lead to a big swing in sentiment, especially if the magic words of monetary easing are mentioned,” said Justin Harper, Singapore-based strategist at IG Markets, in a note, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Japan’s central bank will make its next rate decision on Friday, with market-players hoping for more easing measures to kickstart the stuttering economy, which is struggling to recover from last year’s March 11 disasters.
The BoJ has this year already pledged tens of billions of dollars to help businesses but economic growth remains anaemic.
US giant Apple announced profit in the first three months of the year almost doubled year on year thanks to blockbuster sales of the iPad and iPhone. The news boosted regional tech plays early on but some ended in the red by the end of trade.
Japan’s Advantest was up 2.91 percent but Renesas Electronics was down 0.84 percent and Sony fell 0.52 percent to 1,323 yen.
And in Seoul LG Electronics closed 1.27 percent down and Samsung Electronics rose 1.71 percent.
The euro gained against the yen on expectations of easing from the BoJ.
It was also supported by successful bond auctions in the Netherlands, which has been rocked by the collapse of its government, and debt-laden Spain and Italy.
In early European trade the euro was buying $1.3219 and 107.36 yen, against $1.3192 and 107.35 yen in New York late Tuesday.
The greenback changed hands at 81.24 yen, against 81.36 yen.
On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in June, was up 55 cents at $104.10 and Brent North Sea crude for June gained 46 cents to $118.62.
Gold was at $1,640.25 an ounce at 1045 GMT, compared with $1,639.05 late Tuesday.
In other markets:
– Singapore gained 0.18 percent, or 5.41 points, to 2,979.78.
Singapore Airlines rose 1.13 percent to Sg$10.70 and United Overseas Bank gained 0.93 percent to Sg$18.48.
– Taipei rose 0.86 percent, or 64.34 points, to 7,563.18.
– Manila closed 0.68 percent higher, adding 35.24 points to 5,204.84.
GT Capital Holdings gained 4.44 percent to 513 pesos while Philex Mining rose 8.28 percent to 24.20 pesos.
Metro Pacific Investments Corp. jumped 7.09 percent to 4.53 pesos.
– Kuala Lumpur slipped 0.19 percent, or 2.93 points, to 1,579.35.
Telekom Malaysia lost 0.19 percent to 5.39 ringgit, while budget carrier Air Asia shed 2.93 percent to 3.31 ringgit. Plantation group Sime Darby gained 0.10 percent to 9.76 ringgit.
– Jakarta fell 0.16 percent, or 6.71 points, to 4,163.64.
Car maker Astra International fell 0.7 percent to 70,900 rupiah, tin miner Timah slipped 0.6 percent to 1,800 rupiah, and Bank Central Asia shed 0.6 percent to 7,950 rupiah.
– Bangkok edged up 0.13 percent, or 1.50 points, to close at 1,201.36.
Banpu fell 1.77 percent to 554 baht, while PTT Plc slipped 0.57 percent to close at 346 baht.
– Mumbai closed down 0.33 percent, or 56.00 points, at 17,151.29.
Leading IT outsourcer Wipro ended down 7.29 percent at 410.15 rupees.
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