Asian markets close mixed after directionless session

Shares in Asia closed mixed on Tuesday, following a directionless session yesterday as major markets around the world were closed for various holidays.

The Nikkei 225 was mostly flat, closing 0.02 percent or 4.72 lower at 19,677.85, while the S&P/ASX 200 reversed earlier losses to finish the session in the green. The ASX closed 0.19 percent or 10.828 points higher at 5,717.9.

South Korea’s benchmark Kospi index dipped 0.39 percent or 9.29 points to close at 2,343.68, pulling back from record highs.

Markets in Hong Kong and China are closed today for a public holiday. Stateside, markets in the U.S. were closed on Monday for Memorial Day. Toshiba shares close 0.57 percent lower at 260.8 yen a stock. This followed news that Western Digital could join a consortium involving a Japanese state-backed fund and KKR & Co. Western Digital had initially sought to block the sale of Toshiba’s chip unit.

Shares of the Kuala Lumpur-listed Genting rose 1.5 percent after it reported first quarter earnings of 603 million Malaysian ringgit ($141 million) compared to 131 million ringgit a year ago.

Meanwhile, casino operator Genting Malaysia reported that profits in the first quarter had doubled on year. Despite that, shares of the company tumbled more than five percent.

In economic news, Japan household spending dipped 1.4 percent for the month of April, weaker than the 0.7 percent forecast. Meanwhile, April retail sales rose 3.2 percent on year, compared to a forecast of a 2.3 percent rise, Reuters said.

The dollar/yen, which traded around 111.21 before the release of data, traded at 111.18 following the news. The yen later strengthened further to trade at 110.89 at 2:05 p.m. HK/SIN.

In other currency news, the dollar traded mostly flat against a basket of six rival currencies at 97.707. The greenback hit a near six and a half month low last week.

The British pound traded close to levels seen last Friday on news that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s lead had narrowed ahead of an election next week. With U.K. markets closed yesterday for a bank holiday, the pound last traded at $1.2804.

Meanwhile, the euro edged down to trade at $1.1119 against the dollar. This followed headlines about the Greek bailout and comments made by European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi while addressing the European Parliament yesterday.

In his speech, Draghi acknowledged growth in the euro zone but said “an extraordinary amount of monetary policy support” remained “necessary.”

“It’s now only a week out from the ECB meeting and you can’t get much clearer than that. The ECB will then unveil its new inflation forecasts; an about turn from the ECB signalling a winding down of QE would be a big surprise to the market,” National Australia Bank Senior Economist David de Garis wrote in a note.

Oil prices were mixed after ending the last session cautiously higher following reports of U.S. drillers adding rigs. Brent crude shed 0.27 percent to trade at $52.15 a barrel while U.S. West Texas International (WTI) crude added 0.06 percent to trade at $49.83.

Source: CNBC