Asian shares mixed as investors await Fed, company earnings

AP News
Posted: Feb 19, 2017 10:17 PM

HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stocks were mixed in early trading Monday as investors looked for fresh leads while they awaited economic and corporate earnings reports and Fed meeting minutes due out this week.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.1 percent to 19,207.30 and South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.1 percent to 2,078.08. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.4 percent to 24,128.37 and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4 percent to 3,216.08. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.3 percent to 5,788.80.

WEEK AHEAD: Markets await the Federal Reserve's release Wednesday of minutes from its January policy meeting, which might provide new insight in the U.S. central bank's views on interest rates. Last week, Fed chief Janet Yellen indicated the Fed is likely to speed up the pace of its interest rate rises if the job market remains healthy and inflation stays on track. Also due this week: a German business confidence index on Tuesday, U.S. new home sales on Friday and earnings from big companies such as British bank HSBC.

PRESIDENTS' DAY: U.S. financial markets will be closed for a long weekend holiday, leaving trading in Asia muted.

ANALYST VIEW: "Asian markets look set for a soft start to the week with a lack of leads over the weekend, a phenomenon we have probably been less accustomed to since the U.S. election," said Jingyi Pan of IG Markets in Singapore. "As U.S. indices flicker along year-end forecast ranges, jitters have also evidently picked up."

KRAFT CANCELS: Ketchup maker and packaged food giant Kraft Heinz said Sunday it is dropping its $143 billion offer to buy Unilever, in a decision that the two companies jointly described as amicable. Unilever, which makes mayonnaise, tea and seasonings, had rejected the bid as too low.

WALL STREET: Major U.S. benchmarks inched ahead to record highs last week. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up less than 0.1 percent to 20,624.05. The S&P 500 rose 0.2 percent to 2,351.16. The Nasdaq rose 0.4 percent to 5,838.58.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil slipped 3 cents to $53.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 3 cents to settle at $53.78 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 2 cents to $55.79 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.13 yen from 112.85 yen on Friday. The euro fell to $1.0610 from $1.0615.