ASIA MARKETS: Asian Markets Sit Back, Wait For Global News To Pass

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Investors quiet ahead of ECB meeting, U.K. election, Comey testimony

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Equity markets in the Asia-Pacific region were relatively quiet ahead of a number of news events with global implications, though South Korean stocks underperformed following the latest North Korean missile launch.

The Kospi fell 0.3% and the U.S. dollar rose 0.2% against the Korean won, extending Wednesday's gains. Korea's stocks and currency have been among the best performers this year in Asia, which creates a ripe environment for some profit-taking.

Later today, elections in the U.K. will get under way, the European Central Bank will hold its latest meeting and James Comey, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will testify on Capitol Hill.

"There is an element of caution," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets. But he doesn't think the U.K. and ECB will have much market impact. Rather, Weston pointed to next week's Federal Reserve meeting.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 was down 0.1% and on pace for a fourth straight decline. The index closed at its lowest level in four months on Wednesday and is down 2% so far this week. An overnight slump in oil prices has weighed on Australian stocks.

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Oil Search (OSH.AU) and Woodside Petroleum (WPL.AU) shares each fell nearly 2% in Sydney while Inpex (1605.TO) and Japan Petroleum Exploration (1662.TO) shed about 1.5% in Tokyo. August futures for Brent crude , the international benchmark, recently rose 0.5% to $48.28 a barrel.

The Nikkei was recently up 0.1% as the dollar rose back toward Yen110. Investors in Japan seem to have looked past data which showed Japan's economy growing at a slower pace in the first quarter than initially estimated. But there is hope that this quarter's reading will be stronger.

"Consumer spending is picking up strongly," said Marcel Thieliant, a senior Japan economist at Capital Economics, adding that spending should remain a story throughout 2017. Spending in the first quarter, though, wasn't particularly strong, he said.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 07, 2017 22:52 ET (02:52 GMT)