Asian markets mixed ahead of Bank of Japan policy statement

July 31, 2018
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Trader Michael Capolino, left, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, July 30, 2018. Stocks are off to a mixed start on Wall Street as gains in banks and energy companies are offset by losses in other sectors. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday with narrow trading ahead of a key statement by the Bank of Japan, which could indicate a tightening of its monetary policy.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.3 percent to 22,476.72 and South Korea’s Kospi was flat at 2,293.43. The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.1 percent to 2,872.92 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.3 percent to 28,650.72. Australia’s S&P ASX 200 added 0.1 percent to 6,284.20. Shares fell in Indonesia but were higher in Taiwan and Singapore.

WALL STREET: Technology stocks have tumbled for the third day in a row, leading U.S. indexes to close lower. Microsoft and Alphabet slumped Monday and Facebook, Twitter and Netflix have all fallen at least 20 percent from their record highs earlier this month. The S&P 500 dropped 0.6 percent to 2,802.60. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6 percent to 25,306.83. The Nasdaq composite, which has more technology stocks among its ranks, gave up 1.4 percent 7,630.00. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 0.6 percent to 1,653.13.

BOJ MEETING: Investors are watching the Bank of Japan’s statement on monetary policy due Tuesday. Sustained relatively strong growth has raised expectations that the central bank may need to consider further tempering its massive purchases of government bonds and other assets. They are also watching monetary policy meetings in the U.S. and U.K. The Bank of England is expected to nudge up its key interest rate by a quarter point on Thursday despite uncertainty around Brexit as inflation remains high.

ANALYST’S TAKE: “All attention on central banks this week is on the BOJ. The world has continuously been on the tightening path, starting with moves by the Fed in 2015. Even dovish central banks may be pulling the rope a little bit more,” said Francis Tan, an economist at UOB Bank.

CHINESE PMI: China’s manufacturing activity pulled back slightly in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday. The official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index was 51.2 in July, down from 51.5 a month earlier. Readings above 50 indicate expansion on the index’s 100-point scale. New export orders were stable, but they came in at just below the neutral level for the second month, amid trade tensions between the U.S. and China.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 2 cents to $70.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 2.1 percent to settle at $70.13 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 11 cents to $75.44.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.07 yen from 111.00 yen on Monday. The euro remained flat at $1.1710.

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