MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, with investors preferring to sit on the sidelines ahead of U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen's speech for cues on the timing of the next policy rate hike. Trading volumes and momentum also faded in the backdrop of slumping commodities, weak demand and overcapacity in emerging economies.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 was down 0.7 percent at 16,448. Hong Kong' Hang Seng index rose 0.6 percent to 22,963.33. China's Shanghai Composite was up 0.4 percent at 3,080.15. Australia's S&P ASX 200 slid 0.1 percent to 5,534.20. South Korea's KOSPI fell 0.3 percent at 2,037.56. Southeast Asian markets were mixed.
WALL STREET: Stocks fell in light trading for a second day on Thursday as investors sifted through a mix of earnings reports. The major indexes wavered between small gains and losses in the morning then moved lower in the afternoon as investors dumped health care stocks. Disappointing earnings from a few retailers helped push down stocks of companies that rely on consumer spending. The losses were modest, and both the Standard & Poor's 500 index and Dow Jones industrial average remain close to their record highs hit last week. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 33.07 points, or 0.2 percent, to 18,448.41. The S&P 500 gave up 2.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,172.47. The Nasdaq composite edged down 5.49 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,212.20.
ANALYST TAKE: "(Yellen's speech) is the big event that the markets anticipated, and it has the potential to create waves within the calmness that has prevailed throughout this month," said Margaret Yang, market analyst as CMC Markets Singapore. She said that aside from less risk-taking ahead of the speech at the Jackson Hole meeting, momentum is fading along with trading volumes in the equities market. Sentiment was more fragile and susceptible to any form of shocks in the backdrop of slumping commodities, weak demand and overcapacity in emerging economies.
OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude oil shed 7 cents to $47.29 a barrel from $47.33. Brent crude, used to price oil internationally, slipped 12 cents to $49.56 a barrel.
CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 100.51 yen after closing at 100.58 the previous day. The euro rose to $1.1289 from $1.1285.