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Asian Stocks Mixed, Narrow As Investors Mull Fed Minutes

Asian Stocks Mixed, Narrow As Investors Mull Fed Minutes

David Cottle, Analyst


Talking Points

  • Asian stocks were mixed into Thursday’s close with no major index moving far
  • Investors were busy looking over the latest set of Fed meeting minutes, but not learning much
  • Australian trade headlines looked very good for exporters, but the detail was a bit less so

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Asian markets were mixed and a little directionless Thursday, despite Wall Street’s better close the day before, as oil prices steadied after a sharp fall.

The release of minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s last monetary policy meeting saw investors little the wiser about likely interest rate action ahead or, indeed, when the Fed’s vast balance sheet might start to be pared back. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.4%, with Australia’s ASX near flat. Stocks in Seoul and Shanghai were very marginally higher.

The local economic schedule was light with only Australia’s trade balance numbers to attract attention. These put in a very strong headline performance, coming nearly two and a half times stronger than the A$1 billion expected. However, news of downward revisions to previous months tempered market cheer.

The US Dollar didn’t move far against a basket of its more widely-traded rivals but was softer against the Japanese Yen. Its Australian cousin also slipped back a little.

Gold prices were steady through the Asian session having hit eight-week lows on Wednesday after those Fed minutes found the central bank split on how inflation might affect the rate-hiking process. Higher US rates make non-yielding gold relatively less attractive.

The rest of the day’s data slate will probably be dominated by the US service-sector snapshot from the Institute for Supply Management. Swiss consumer price numbers are due, as are various European PMIs. The “account” of the European Central Bank’s last monetary policy meeting will be published, as will news of US jobless claims, mortgage applications and crude oil inventory. Canadian Dollar fans, and indeed foes, will want to keep an eye on building-permit data which are also coming up.

--- Written by David Cottle, DailyFX Research

Contact and follow David on Twitter: @DavidCottleFX

DailyFX provides forex news and technical analysis on the trends that influence the global currency markets.