Asian Shares Mostly Lower Ahead Of Central Bank Meetings

Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Monday as growth worries lingered and investors looked for cues from key central bank meetings due later in the week.

Gold prices were subdued, while the U.S. dollar traded largely unchanged ahead of the Federal Reserve, People’s Bank of China, European Central Bank and Bank of Japan policy meetings.

The U.S. central bank is expected to pause raising interest rates amid signs of cooling inflation and slowing economic growth.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index finished marginally lower at 3,228.83 as more banks cut deposit rates, fueling speculation there may be a cut to the Medium-Term Lending Facility.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index finished marginally higher at 19,404.31, recovering early losses on concerns that China’s post-COVID economic recovery is losing steam.

Japanese shares rose for a second consecutive session, with pharma and chip-related stocks leading the way higher. The Nikkei 225 Index pared early gains to settle 0.5 percent higher at 32,434.00, while the broader Topix Index ended 0.7 percent higher at 2,238.77.

Eisai gained 1.9 percent after its Alzheimer’s drug Leqembi got the unanimous backing of a panel of U.S. FDA experts. Peer Daiichi Sankyo and Chugai Pharmaceutical jumped 4.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.

Tech heavyweight SoftBank Group advanced 1.6 percent due to the frenzy for semiconductor and artificial intelligence-related stocks.

Japan’s wholesale inflation slowed for a fifth consecutive month in May because of sliding fuel and commodity prices, data showed earlier in the day.

Seoul stocks ended lower as caution crept in ahead of this week’s Fed decision. The Kospi avrage dropped 0.5 percent to 2,629.35, with tech and auto stocks pacing the declines.

Among those that gained, Hanjin KAL Corp rallied 2.9 percent and Hanwha Ocean Co., formerly known as Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., soared 3.8 percent.

Australian markets were closed for a holiday. Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index fell 0.6 percent to 11,615.55.

U.S. stocks fluctuated before ending slightly higher on Friday as investors looked ahead to key inflation data and the Fed’s latest policy announcement.

Weekly jobless claims surged to the highest level in more than 1-1/2 years, bolstering bets for the Federal Reserve to hold pat on interest rates.

The Dow and the S&P 500 both inched up around 0.1 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.2 percent.

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