Asian Markets Trade Mixed

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Monday, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, as traders are cautiously optimistic ahead of the monetary policy meetings of the US Fed, the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan later in the week. A surge in initial jobless claims in the U.S. has bolstered hopes that the Fed will pause its rate hikes. Asian markets closed mostly higher on Friday.

Key US inflation reports are also likely to be in the spotlight next week, as the data could have a significant impact on the outlook for interest rates.

CME Group’s FedWatch Tool is currently indicating a 71.2 percent chance the Fed will leave rates unchanged next week but a 28.8 percent chance of another quarter point rate hike in July.

The Australian stock market is closed on Monday in observance of Queen’s Birthday. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Friday.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.674 on Monday.

The Japanese stock market is significantly higher on Monday, extending the gains in the previous session, with the Nikkei 225 moving above the 32,400 level toward fresh 33-year highs, following the broadly positive cues from Wall Street on Friday, with gains across all sectors, led by index heavyweights and technology stocks.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 Index closed the morning session at 32,485.56, up 220.39 or 0.68 percent, after touching a high of 32,517.68 earlier. Japanese shares ended sharply higher on Friday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is gaining more than 2 percent, while Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing is losing almost 1 percent. Among automakers, Honda is gaining almost 2 percent and Toyota is adding almost 1 percent.

In the tech space, Screen Holdings is edging up 0.1 percent, Advantest is gaining almost 2 percent and Tokyo Electron is adding almost 1 percent.

In the banking sector, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial is edging up 0.3 percent, while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Mizuho Financial are edging down 0.2 to 0.4 percent each.

The major exporters are higher. Canon and Sony are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Mitsubishi Electric is adding more than 1 percent and Panasonic is advancing almost 2 percent.

Among the other major gainers, Taiheiyo Cement is gaining almost 4 percent and OKUMA is up more than 3 percent, while Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Nidec, M3, CyberAgent, Daiichi Sankyo and Fujikura are adding almost 3 percent each.

Conversely, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha is losing almost 4 percent, while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Nippon Yusen K.K. are down almost 3 percent each.

In economic news, producer prices in Japan were down 0.7 percent on month in May, the Bank of Japan said on Monday.That missed expectations for a decline of 0.2 percent and was down from the upwardly revised 0.3 percent increase in April (originally 0.2 percent). On a yearly basis, producer prices climbed 5.1 percent – again shy of forecasts for a gain of 5.1 percent and down from the upwardly revised 5.9 percent increase in the previous month (originally 5.8 percent).

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 139 yen-range on Monday.

Elsewhere in Asia, New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Indonesia are lower by between 0.3 and 0.7 percent each, while, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan are higher by between 0.4 and 0.7 percent each.

On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading session on Friday before eventually ending the day modestly higher. With the uptick on the day, the S&P 500 reached its best closing level since mid-August.

The major averages swung back and forth before closing slightly above the unchanged line. The Nasdaq rose 20.62 points or 0.2 percent to 13,259.14, the S&P 500 crept up 4.93 points or 0.1 percent to 4,298.86 and the Dow inched up 43.17 points or 0.1 percent to 33,876.78.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index dipped by 0.3 percent and the French CAC 40 Index edged down by 0.1 percent.

Crude oil prices slumped again on Friday, extending losses from the previous session on concerns about the outlook for demand ahead of several key central bank meetings this week. West Texas Intermediate for July delivery fell $1.12 or 1.6 percent to $70.17 a barrel.

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