Asian shares mixed, Nikkei up on weaker yen
Agence France-Presse in Hong Kong
Asian markets were mixed on Tuesday following a rally in the previous session, while Tokyo enjoyed a pick-up after a long weekend as the dollar remained strong against the yen.
Wall Street provided strong support after the Dow and S&P 500 closed at record highs for a third straight session despite weak retail sales figures.
Tokyo rose 0.61 per cent as it played catch-up with a region-wide advance on Monday, while Sydney was flat, but Hong Kong eased 0.26 per cent, Shanghai fell 0.41 per cent and Seoul lost 0.32 per cent.
Profit-taking weighed on prices after Monday’s gains fuelled by Chinese economic growth data that come in line with forecasts.
However, the 7.5 per cent expansion in April-June still represented a second mixed straight quarter of slower growth, highlighting weakness in the world’s number two economy.
Japanese investors took advantage of the softer yen, which began to fall against the dollar last week after Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke said the bank’s easy money policy would remain in place for some time.
In early Tokyo forex trade the dollar, which peaked above 100 yen in early trade, eased slightly to sit at 99.90 yen by late morning, compared with 99.82 yen in New York late Monday.
The euro fetched US$1.3055 and 130.54 yen compared with US$1.3064 and 130.41 yen in New York.
On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.13 per cent and the S&P 500 added 0.14 per cent, both hitting all-time highs for a third-straight session. The Nasdaq gained 0.21 per cent.
US traders brushed off figures showing retail sales in June rose just 0.4 per cent, below the 0.7 per cent expected by analysts. Excluding motor vehicle and parts sales, retail sales were flat.
With few new catalysts to drive action, focus will now turn to Bernanke’s testimony on the US economy and monetary policy Wednesday and Thursday. There will also be a two-day meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors that concludes Friday.
Oil prices were mixed, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August up 22 cents to US$106.54 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for August delivery shed 10 cents to US$108.99 in morning trade.
Gold fetched US$1,277.40 per ounce at 0210 GMT, compared with US$1,282.92 late Friday.