Nikkei shifts lower; metal prices boost Australian miners
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Stock markets were broadly higher across Asia on Tuesday, with Singapore snapping a five-session losing streak.
The FTSE Straits Times Index gained 0.5%, making up for some of the 1.9% pullback there since last Monday, led by strength in blue chips. Elsewhere, Korea's Kospi rose 0.4%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index gained 0.9% and Taiwan's Taiex added 0.6%.
Volumes were relatively light, though, as investors broadly sat on the sidelines ahead of the Jackson Hole, Wyo., economic symposium later this week.
The roster of top central bankers includes Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, who will gather at the annual conference that kicks off Thursday.
"The market continues to wait on policy makers for direction," said Michala Marcussen, global head of economics at Société Générale. "Unless there is fresh guidance forthcoming from ECB President Draghi or from officials at Jackson Hole, markets are likely to keep" their listless trend, she said.
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In Japan, the Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.1%. It has fallen in 10 of the past 12 trading sessions to cut the year-to-date gain to 1.4%.
The Japanese currency rose after Monday stock trading ended, with the dollar falling below 109 yen overnight from Yen109.27. That put pressure on the export-heavy index. But the dollar rebounded this morning and was last at Yen109.31.
Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.1%, while the Shenzhen benchmark fell 0.4%.
The Shanghai-listed shares of telecom firm China Unicom , which last week unveiled plans to sell stakes to key Chinese tech giants, rose by the upward limit of 10% for the second-straight session, as trading resumed Monday after a near five-month suspension, when the company's share-ownership reform plan was being completed.
Also in Hong Kong, shares of Great Wall Motor Co. (2333.HK) halted trading after the company confirmed its interest in buying Fiat Chrysler's (FCA.MI) (FCA.MI) iconic Jeep brand. The Chinese auto maker's stock has risen almost 40% so far this year.
Among the bright spots in the region, mining-company stocks in Australia notched strong gains after a solid rise in metal prices in the previous session and good news from heavyweight BHP Billiton. The gains helped drive a 0.4% rebound in the S&P/ASX 200 index.
BHP declared on Tuesday that it would triple its final dividend (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/bhp-billiton-swings-to-profit-to-hike-dividend-2017-08-22), joining fellow miners in rewarding shareholders as its fortunes have rebounded with a recovery in commodity prices. Like its peers, BHP has spent recent years focused on lowering costs and working to strengthen its balance sheet. The company also said Tuesday that it was looking to sell its onshore U.S. oil-and-gas operations.
Shares of BHP Billiton (BHP.AU) gained 1.1%, while fellow miner Rio Tinto (RIO) added 2.5%, and Fortescue Metals (FMG.AU) gained 1.4%.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 22, 2017 05:51 ET (09:51 GMT)