Asian stocks trade narrowly mixed as dollar holds onto gains

Asian stocks were narrowly mixed in Wednesday trade following the mixed close on Wall Street as several markets in the region re-opened for trade after a holiday.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 edged down by 0.27 percent, with the broader Topix also recording slight weakness and trading lower by 0.28 percent as its mining and oil subindexes led losses. Automakers were also broadly traded lower.

Elsewhere, the Kospi slipped 0.32 percent as manufacturing stocks and automakers declined.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 bucked the downward trend in the region to gain 0.47 percent as the industrials and information technology sectors gained.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index hovered around the flat line, with declines in large cap financials and property developers balanced by gains in the technology sector. Casino stocks also gained on the back of revenues topping expectations last month.

Mainland markets advanced, with the Shanghai composite adding 0.22 percent and the Shenzhen Composite gaining 0.53 percent.

MSCI’s broad index of shares in Asia Pacific excluding Japan was mostly steady, last trading higher by 0.05 percent.

On the corporate front, earnings from Standard Chartered and SJM Holdings are due later in the day.

The tepid moves in early trade came on the back of a mixed session on Wall Street, with the Nasdaq composite advancing as Apple stock jumped ahead of expectation-topping results released after the market close. The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day slightly lower.

Almost 80 percent of S&P 500 companies that had reported first-quarter results as of Monday had topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

In currencies, the dollar held onto overnight gains ahead of the end of the Federal Reserve’s May meeting. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, traded at 92.441 at 9:34 a.m. HK/SIN, near a four-month high.

Most analysts expect the Fed to hold interest rates steady this month, but will be on the lookout for signals on the central bank’s views on inflation and the economy.

Against the yen, the dollar pared some of its overnight gains trade at 109.73. Meanwhile, the Australian dollar continued to trade below the $0.75 handle and last stood at $0.7486.

Oil prices edged slightly higher after sliding in the last session amid strength in the dollar. Brent crude futures for July delivery was almost flat at $73.14 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures for June delivery tacked on 0.18 percent to trade at $67.37.

Recent concerns over the possibility of the U.S. re-imposing sanctions on Iran have supported oil prices.

On the economic front, China’s Caixin manufacturing PMI rose to 51.1 last month, compared to a forecast of 50.9.

In individual movers, SK Innovation was up 3.31 percent following news earlier this week that it would buy back around 1 trillion won (932.6 million) of its shares.

Source: CNBC