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Asian Shares Turn In Mixed Performance As Investors Look To Powell

stockmarkets dec12 10jul19 lt

Asian stocks ended mixed in cautious trading on Wednesday as investors awaited Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's congressional testimony later in the day for clues about whether the U.S. central bank will meet dovish expectations in light of strong U.S. jobs data released last week.

Powell is due to testify before the House Financial Services Committee later today and before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.

China's Shanghai Composite Index dropped 12.93 points or 0.4 percent to 2,915.30, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 88.41 points or 0.3 percent to 28,204.69 as investors digested Chinese inflation data.

Consumer prices in China were up 2.7 percent year-over-year in June, the National Bureau of Statistics said, in line with expectations and unchanged from the May reading.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices were down 0.1 percent following the flat reading a month earlier.

Producer prices were flat on year in June. That was shy of expectations for an increase of 0.2 percent and down from 0.6 percent in the previous month.

Japanese shares ended lower as traders took a wait-and-see approach ahead of key U.S. congressional testimony by Fed chief Powell. The Nikkei 225 Index eased 31.67 points or 0.2 percent to 21,533.48, while the broader Topix closed 0.2 percent lower at 1,571.32.

Canon rose 0.7 percent and Sony added 1.1 percent as the dollar rose against the yen. Tech stocks such as Advantest and Tokyo Electron ended on a mixed note.

Nintendo dropped 1.3 percent on reports that it is exploring partially relocating the production of its Nintendo Switch video game console to Vietnam from China this summer amid the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

Mitsubishi Motors declined 1.7 percent after saying it would invest in Indonesian ride-hailing giant Gojek along with trading house Mitsubishi Corp.

Australian markets eked out modest gains, with financials rising after S&P Global Ratings upgraded its outlook on the country's major banks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 24.10 points or 0.4 percent to 6,689.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 27.60 points or 0.4 percent at 6,777.70.

Banks Commonwealth and NAB rose 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively. Energy stocks ended on a subdued note despite oil prices rising more than 1 percent.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto declined 0.2 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively ahead of quarterly production figures due next week.

Retail Food Group rallied 2.3 percent after the troubled Gloria Jeans and Donut King franchisor confirmed it is in advanced talks with a Hong Kong-owned investment firm Soliton Capital Partners over a deal to reduce its debt by A$160 million.

Seoul stocks rose as chipmakers climbed amid bets on production cuts in the wake of curbs on the export of key materials from Japan. The Kospi gained 6.75 points or 0.3 percent to end at 2,058.78. Shares of Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix jumped 1 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.

South Korea's president said today that Japan's export curbs on key materials used by South Korean technology firms could be prolonged and his government would increase spending to reduce reliance on Japanese components.

New Zealand shares rose amid a broad-based rally, with the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index surging up 112.03 points or 1.1 percent to 10,650.14. Shares of dairy firm a2 Milk Company jumped 6.6 percent.

Food prices in New Zealand dropped 0.7 percent in June, driven by lower prices for cakes and biscuits, Statistics New Zealand said in a report today. That follows the 0.7 percent monthly increase in May.

U.S. stocks finished mixed overnight as caution prevailed ahead of two days of congressional testimony by Powell.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq bounced off from day's lows to rise half a percent and the S&P 500 inched up 0.1 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1 percent.

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