SEOUL, South Korea – Asian stock markets were lower Tuesday, taking a cue from losses on Wall Street ahead of earnings from major Asian companies and the Federal Reserve's policy meeting.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 outperformed the region, gaining 0.4 percent to 20,058.95. Other markets were weaker with Hong Kong's Hang Seng down 0.3 percent to 28,344.86. South Korea's Kospi shed 0.5 percent to 2,147.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.6 percent to 5,949.60. Stocks in Southeast Asia were weaker.
GAINS QUESTIONED: "Investors are finding themselves questioning the price action we've been seeing recently and many are not convinced the gains we've been seeing of late are a permanent fixture," said Stan Shamu, a market strategist at IG. "This has resulted in a degree of profit taking through quiet trade."
EARNINGS WATCH: Investors are waiting for an update on the health of corporate Asia with major tech and auto companies expected to report quarterly financial results this week, including Honda later in the day and Samsung, LG and Sony later this week.
FED WATCH: Investors are looking ahead to Wednesday when the Federal Reserve ends a two-day meeting at which policymakers will discuss when to raise a key interest rate that has been held near zero for 6 ½ years. After its March meeting, the Fed opened the door to a rate increase this year by no longer saying it would be "patient" in starting to raise its benchmark rate. But weak economic data recently might complicate that picture.
THE QUOTE: "The Fed will have to acknowledge the weaker data of late when it meets tomorrow," DBS Bank said in a daily report. "It will be hard to blame either on dock strikes or the weather, given that payrolls dipped in March and capex has been falling since August."
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US DATA: The Conference Board releases its April index on U.S. consumer confidence on Tuesday. In March, an improving job market drove U.S. consumer confidence higher after a dip in February, a promising sign for the economy as it heads into spring. The U.S. government also releases its estimate of economic growth in the January-March quarter. Gross domestic product is expected to have risen 1 percent, down from 2.2 percent in the previous quarter.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday after trading higher in the morning session. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.17 points, or 0.2 percent, to close at 18,037.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 8.77 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,108.92. The Nasdaq fell 31.84 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,060.25.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude declined 72 cents to $56.28 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 16 cents to close at $56.99 on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 63 cents to $64.20 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 119.04 yen from 119.12 yen in the previous global trading session. The euro rose to $1.0889 from $1.0876.