SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stocks extended gains Tuesday with the South Korean stock market closing at a three-year high ahead of U.S. and Chinese economic reports later this week.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.6 percent to 15,618.07. South Korea's Kospi posted its highest close since August 2011, rising 0.6 percent to 2,061.97. South Korean stocks have been boosted by the new finance minister's recent announcement of economic stimulus and measures to boost the housing market. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7 percent to 24,592.52 and China's Shanghai Composite gained 0.2 percent to 2,183.19. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.2 percent to 5,588.40. Markets in India, Indonesia and Malaysia were closed for holidays.
EARNINGS: Companies are in the middle of corporate earnings season. Japanese carmaker Honda Motor Co. said its April-June quarter profit surged nearly 20 percent, meeting expectations. Shares of Honda closed 0.8 percent lower before its earnings release. Asian tech heavyweights Samsung Electronics Co. and Sony Corp. will release their quarterly financial results on Thursday.
ANALYST TAKE: William Leys, sales trader at CMC Markets, said markets were calm before the data storm, forecasting that trading volume would become heavier toward the end of this week. "Caution is the pre-eminent theme across global markets at the moment, as investors anticipate a spate of key economic data due later in the week, amid a backdrop of persistent geopolitical concerns," Leys said in a commentary. "With a variety of weighty announcements looming, the stage is set for an action packed end to the week."
DATA RUSH: On Wednesday, the U.S. will release gross domestic product figures for the April-June quarter. The world's largest economy is expected to pick up after severe winter cold dampened growth the previous quarter. The Federal Reserve is scheduled to issue a statement after wrapping up a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. On Thursday, a report on China's manufacturing industry will give investors an update on the health of the world's factory floor. On Friday, the U.S. will release its monthly jobs data. Analysts estimate that the U.S. labor market added between 235,000 and 255,000 jobs in July.
RUSSIA SANCTIONS: Tensions between Russia and the West may resurface as the West is expected to slap another round of sanctions against Russia. On Monday, the White House said the United States and European Union plan to impose new sanctions against Russia this week, including penalties targeting key parts of the Russian economy. The EU had previously refrained from stepping up sanctions in the wake of the shooting down of a Malaysian jetliner over a rebel-controlled region of Ukraine, killing 298 people.
DOLLAR DEALS: There was upbeat and downbeat news from the U.S. trading day but it didn't get much traction in Asian markets. Discount store chain Dollar Tree said it was buying rival chain Family dollar and real estate listing service Zillow announced a deal to takeover Trulia, also in the property listing business. The National Association of Realtors said its index of U.S. pending home sales, a barometer of future purchases, slipped 1.1 percent to 102.7 in June. The contraction was bigger than forecast and indicated a cooling of the real estate market this summer.
CURRENCIES, OIL: The euro retreated slightly to $1.3432 from the previous session's $1.3439. The dollar drifted higher to 101.95 yen from 101.84 yen. The price of oil dipped, with benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery down 16 cents to $101.51 a barrel.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks were little changed on Monday with the Dow Jones industrial average up 0.1 percent to 16,982.59 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index closing at 1,978.91, nearly unmoved. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index slipped 0.1 percent to finish at 4,444.91.