ASIA MARKETS: Nikkei Retreats Ahead Of BOJ Announcement

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Kospi gains as Samsung posts record earnings

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Asian stock markets were lacking direction early Tuesday, with Japan's benchmark index underperforming as investors were cautious ahead of the central bank's monetary policy announcement and a stronger yen.

While the Bank of Japan is widely expected to stand pat, analysts say investors are watching for any guidance on the broad health of the nation's economy, particularly its inflation outlook.

The Nikkei Stock Average was down 0.4% in early trade, with shares of major car makers down by about 1% amid strength in the yen. The dollar was trading at Yen113.16, compared with Yen113.61 at the end of stock market trading on Monday.

Meanwhile, overnight declines in U.S. Treasury yields hurt shares of Japanese insurers, which are large holders of the government paper. Insurers were down more than 1.5% in Tokyo on average.

Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasurys had their biggest one-day decline since early September overnight, after the first indictments were made in a U.S. probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

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"This story, which has popped up again after many weeks of quiet investigation could unsettle markets in the run up to Trump's big announcement, tax policy progress and Asia tour," said Rob Carnell, head of research for Asia at ING.

The lower bond yields weighed on the dollar, with trading already muted ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting and key U.S. data due later in the week. As a result, Asian currencies were broadly higher against the dollar in early trade.

Elsewhere in the region, moves in stock markets were relatively modest. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 moved sideways, even as higher oil prices boosted energy stocks. In Korea, the Kospi was up 0.3%, with Samsung Electronics (005930.SE) rising 1.7% after the company reported another solid quarter.

The electronics giant delivered a record profit for a second straight quarter this year, cashing in on continued demand for its electronics components.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 30, 2017 22:38 ET (02:38 GMT)