Asian shares mostly higher awaiting central banks meeting

By YURI KAGEYAMA Markets Associated Press

Asian stocks were mostly higher Friday as market players watched for comments at a central banks' annual meeting later in the global day.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.4 percent to 19,434.54 in early trading. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 inched down 0.1 percent to 5,739.20. South Korea's Kospi was up nearly 0.2 percent at 2,379.86. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.7 percent to 27,706.87, while the Shanghai Composite index was also up 0.7 percent at 3,293.85.

WALL STREET: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.07 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,438.97. Through the day, it flipped between gains of up to 0.3 percent and losses of up to 0.3 percent. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 28.69 points, or 0.1 percent, to 21,783.40.The market has drifted up and down since the S&P 500 set a record high earlier this month.

THE FED: One event catching market attention is a symposium of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi are both expected to speak at the meeting Friday, although few analysts expect major surprises.

THE QUOTE: "Although market participants don't expect Draghi to reveal an exit plan to end the ECB's massive bond-purchasing program during this meeting, any clues as to his view of inflation and economic development will be closely watched to gauge the likelihood of tapering by end of this year," said Margaret Yang Yan, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 31 cents to $47.74 a barrel. It fell 98 cents to $47.43 per barrel Thursday. Brent crude, the international standard, rose 35 cents to $52.01 a barrel.

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CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 109.66 yen from 109.22 yen late Thursday in Asia. The euro fell to $1.1795 from $1.1801.

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