Asian stocks meandered on Monday as investors looked ahead to the Fed's meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for clues on timing for possible interest rate hikes.
KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.3 percent to 3,098.10 while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.2 percent to 16,584.75. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.5 percent to 22,818.30 and Seoul's Kospi added 0.9 percent to 2,017.94. Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 advanced 0.4 percent to 5,497.40 and benchmarks in New Zealand and Indonesia rose. Singapore and Thailand declined. On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average shed 45.13 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,552.57. The S&P 500 fell 3.15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,183.87. The Nasdaq composite lost 1.77 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 5,238.38. The Nasdaq rose for the eighth week in a row, although the gain was just 0.1 percent.
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FED WATCH: Investors were looking ahead to a speech by Fed chair Janet Yellen at an annual summer gathering in Jackson Hole, for indications of how policymakers view the outlook for economic growth and interest rates. Analysts expect Yellen to express caution but support the impression the U.S. central bank is on track to raise rates as early as this year.
ANALYST'S TAKE: "Recent market price action suggests that nervousness about Fed policy may persist ahead of the Jackson Hole symposium," said Citigroup economists in a report. "With markets pricing almost even odds for another Fed hike this year, and given the retreat in the dollar and the rally in risky and emerging markets, this allows investors to once again ponder their portfolio exposure in the backdrop of subtle shifts in Fed messaging."
WALL STREET: Energy companies fell as a rally in oil prices faded and investors sold safe assets they favored earlier. Technology and materials companies made small gains. While stocks haven't made many big moves this summer and the S&P was flat last week, there are signs investors feel comfortable enough to take bigger risks.
INDIA'S NEW BANKER: India's government ended weeks of speculation by naming Urjit Patel governor of the Reserve Bank of India. Economists said the appointment of Patel, a deputy governor since 2013, was likely to lead to policy continuity because he worked closely with his predecessor, Raghuram Rajan. They said Patel's personal prominence also might help defuse concern the government was trying to reduce the bank's independence.
CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 100.78 yen from Friday's 100.22 yen. The euro declined to $1.1283 from $1.1325.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 61 cents to $48.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 1 cent on Friday to $49.11. Brent crude, used to price international oils, tumbled 78 cents to $50.10 per barrel in London. It lost 1 cent on Friday to $50.88.