Asian stocks lower amid wait for central bank decisions
TOKYO (AP) — Asian stocks fell across the board Monday ahead of policy decisions by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, and major earnings reports and economic data from Japan and China expected later in the week.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 0.8 percent to 17,439.30. South Korea's Kospi inched down 0.1 percent to 2,012.69. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.4 percent to 21,379.00, while the Shanghai Composite dropped 0.5 percent to 2,943.96. Markets were closed in Australia for ANZAC Day, a public holiday.
CENTRAL BANKS: Central bank policy meetings in Japan and the U.S. are the focus of investors' attention. It is unclear whether additional monetary easing is in store, but the meetings may provide indicators for what can be expected on interest rates in the future. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand, RBNZ, is also holding a policy meeting this week.
THE QUOTE: "While most of the focus will center on possible policy action from the BOJ, traders will be looking for forward guidance from both the Fed and RBNZ. It is likely we are in for another very bumpy ride this week," said Stephen Innes, senior trader at Oanda in Singapore.
WALL STREET: On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average eked out a tiny gain for last week, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed essentially flat. The Dow rose 21.23 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,003.75. The S&P 500 index added 0.10 points to 2,091. The Nasdaq composite index lost 39.66 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,906.23.
EARNINGS: Market players are also looking to annual earnings reports later this week in Japan, including major brokerage Nomura and video-game software and machine manufacturer Nintendo. Sony Corp. postponed its earnings release date to next month because of uncertainty over the supply chain from the recent earthquake in the southwestern main island of Kyushu.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 41 cents to $43.32 a barrel in New York. It lost 55 cents to $43.18 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 30 cents to $44.81.
CURRENCIES: In currency markets, the dollar gained to 111.12 yen from 109.48 yen late Friday in Asia. The euro fell to $1.1238 from $1.1303.
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