Asian Equities Fall Ahead of Powell’s Visit to Congress

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By Investors Hub

Asian stock moved mostly lower on Tuesday as sentiment turned cautious ahead of Fed Chairman Jay Powell’s two-day testimony to Congress on Wednesday and Thursday, with markets waiting to see whether the language will be dovish enough after the release of a stronger than expected jobs report.

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

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped 5.13 points or 0.2 percent to 2,928.23 as investors fretted about a lack of clarity in U.S.-China trade talks following the G20 summit in Japan. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 215.41 points or 0.8 percent to 28,116.28.

Meanwhile, Japanese markets eked out small gains even as technology shares slumped after Rosenblatt Securities downgraded its rating on Apple’s stock to Sell from Neutral.

The Nikkei 225 Index edged up 30.80 points or 0.1 percent to 21,565.15, led by defensive shares such as Fast Retailing, KDDI and FamilyMart Uny, which climbed 1.5 percent, 2.3 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively. The broader Topix closed 0.2 percent lower at 1,574.89.

Apple supplier Murata Manufacturing gave up 2 percent, Taiyo Yuden tumbled 4 percent and TDK Corp. declined 1.5 percent.

Australian markets finished marginally lower, with banks pacing the declines as the country’s banking regulator raised the capital buffer for banks by less than originally proposed.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged down 6.50 points or 0.1 percent to 6,665.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index slipped 7.30 points or 0.1 percent to close at 6,750.10.

The big four banks fell between 0.3 percent and 0.7 percent. Miners BHP, Fortescue Metals Group and Rio Tinto rose between 0.9 percent and 1.4 percent as rating agency S&P raised its 2019-21 iron ore price forecasts.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining dropped 1.3 percent to extend losses for a third straight session as gold prices eased on a firmer U.S. dollar.

Australia business confidence weakened in June after rising sharply in May, monthly survey data from National Australia Bank showed today.

The business confidence index fell 5 points to +2 in June, and the decline was broad-based across industries. Meanwhile, the business conditions index rose by 2 points to +3, driven by increases by the employment and trading sub-indexes.

Seoul shares retreated on economic concerns as a Japanese minister ruled out a withdrawal of restrictions on Japanese high-tech exports to South Korea, saying the curbs did not violate World Trade Organization rules. The benchmark Kospi ended down 12.14 points or 0.6 percent at 2,052.03.

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