Asian stocks gave up some of their early gains Wednesday amid uncertainties about what could emerge from a central banking conclave in Jackson Hole, Wyo., which begins Thursday.
Japan's Nikkei rose as much as 0.9% in early trading thanks to dollar strength. But as the yen rebounded, the index's advance slowed and it was up 0.3% recently, sending the dollar down to Yen109.45 from Yen109.80 earlier. The Nikkei has fallen for the past five sessions, setting four-month closing lows both Monday and Tuesday.
Shares have seesawed this week. Comments Tuesday from House Speaker Paul Ryan that tax-reform plans are on track, and strengthening in the dollar, acted as a shot in the arm for many major stock markets.
But caution re-emerged as investors geared up for the Jackson Hole economic and awaited speeches by central bank chiefs Janet Yellen and Mario Draghi.
Jane Fu, a sales trader at CMC Markets, said investors don't expect big news, but market participants are nonetheless on guard.
Taiwan stocks had held most of its early gains until a half-hour before that market closed. The Taiex was recently down 0.1%. Taiwan Semiconductor and Hon Hai were among the stocks giving up earlier advances.
Meanwhile, despite Samsung Electronics rising 1.1% in South Korea, the Kospi was recently 0.1% lower after losing its own morning gains.
And Australia's stock benchmark shed early gains as utilities stocks, under pressure all month, sank further. As the S&P/ASX 200 was recently off 0.2%, the utilities subindex fell 1.3%, putting the past month's slide at 4.1%.
Lower throughout Wednesday morning were Chinese stocks, weighed down by a 5% pullback in iron-ore and steel-rebar futures, both of which have strongly rallied in recent weeks.
The country's steel association late Tuesday said it saw limited room for further price gains. Meanwhile, China's top prosecutor vowed to intensify a crackdown on financial crimes that disrupt securities- and futures-market orders.
The Shanghai Composite Index ended morning trading down 0.2%, with steel and precious-metals stocks the biggest decliners.
Trading in Hong Kong was halted as Typhoon Hato passed by the city with maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers an hour.
Elsewhere, the stronger dollar and an industry group's downbeat reading on U.S. gasoline and distillates inventories for last week, pressured oil in Asian trading. U.S. and global crude benchmarks were recently down about 0.2%.
Yifan Xie contributed to this article.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 23, 2017 01:40 ET (05:40 GMT)